Is The Amazon Fire Phone A Game Changer For E-Commerce?

    June 18, 2014
    Chris Crum
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Leave it to the world’s leader in e-commerce to develop a mobile device that you can simply point at an object and push a button to buy it.

Do you expect the Amazon Fire to have a significant impact on how people buy products online? Share your thoughts in the comments.

After months, or even years of anticipation, Amazon unveiled its first smartphone on Wednesday. Keeping in line with its Kindle Fire and Fire TV brands, it’s simply called Fire or Fire Phone.

The device comes with some surprises including two completely new features called Dynamic Perspective and Firefly, both of which Amazon is offering developers software development kits for. It also comes with Mayday support, as was made famous on the Kindle Fire. This lets users get live customer support at the click of a button.

Amazon explains, “Fire is the only smartphone with Dynamic Perspective and Firefly, two new breakthrough technologies that allow you to see and interact with the world through a whole new lens. Dynamic Perspective uses a new sensor system to respond to the way you hold, view, and move Fire, enabling experiences not possible on other smartphones. Firefly quickly recognizes things in the real world—web and email addresses, phone numbers, QR and bar codes, movies, music, and millions of products, and lets you take action in seconds—all with the simple press of the Firefly button.” Emphasis ours.

Yes, millions of products at the click of an actual hardware button on the device. Just point your phone at a product in person, and quickly buy it on Amazon. Brick and mortars already concerned about showrooming are going to just love this. A couple years ago, Target stopped selling Amazon’s Kindle in retaliation for for showrooming. What will retailers do now that Amazon is offering consumers a device that removes just about any friction from the process?

Here are features Amazon lists for Firefly:

  • Printed phone numbers, email, web addresses, QR, and bar codes: Firefly identifies printed text on signs, posters, magazines and business cards—make a call, send an email, save as a contact, or go to the website without typing out long URLs or email addresses.
  • 245,000 movies and TV episodes, and 160 live TV channels: Firefly recognizes movies and TV episodes, and uses IMDb for X-Ray to show actors, plot synopses, and related content—add titles to Watch List or download and start watching immediately.
  • 35 million songs: Firefly recognizes music and uses Amazon Music’s rich catalog to show information about the artist—play more songs, add them to your Wish List, or download instantly to your Fire. Developers, such as iHeartRadio and StubHub, used the SDK to build Firefly-enabled apps, so customers can create a new radio station based on the song or find concert tickets for the artist.
  • 70 million products, including household items, books, DVDs, CDs, video games, and more: Access product details, add items to your Wish List, or order on Amazon.com.
  • The Firefly SDK is available starting today so developers can invent new ways to use this advanced technology. Later this year, Firefly will include artwork recognition, foreign language translation, and wine label recognition powered by Vivino.

The device also includes functionality that even Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos admitted was a little creepy. It knows the position of your head pretty much all the time because of four cameras and infrared sensors that work together to track it. That’s how it’s able to offer the Dynamic Perspective feature, which lets you “tilt, auto-scroll, swivel, and peek to navigate menus and access shortcuts with one hand” and “peek to see detailed views of clothing, shoes, and more in the new Amazon Shopping app.”

Yes, the company that unveiled its drone project last fall will now know the exact position of your head. Creepy indeed.

Perhaps one day Amazon will deliver your order before you’ve even left its brick and mortar competitor where you’ve been showrooming. Just walk out the door and pick it up. How convenient.

Beyond features like Dynamic Perspective and Firefly, the phone is really about keeping you in the Amazon world, just as Apple is moving more and more towards keeping iPhone users in its world, and Google is doing so with Android. Where there is certainly still a lot of overlap, we appear to be moving closer to a world where the device will dictate the services we use. Just as Apple seems to be trying to wean users off of Google, Amazon may be trying to do something similar, and ironically, while using its own version of Android (which is about to be extended to a whole other platform in BlackBerry).

The Fire of course comes with Amazon’s Silk browser. You’ll notice from this image that Amazon is not pointing users to anything Google-related.

They’re reportedly using Bing for Search and Nokia for maps.

There are a lot more features on the Fire. You can get a nice rundown right here.

The device is only going to be on AT&T, but we’ll see how long that lasts. It’s $199 with a two-year contract, but Amazon is sweetening the deal with a free year of Prime, which gives users unlimited streaming and downloads of tens of thousands of movies and TV episodes, over a million songs, over 500,000 books from the Kindle Lending Library, and free two-day shipping on millions of items.

Last year, Amazon Marketplace Sellers sold over a billion units with sales in the tens of billions of dollars. Third-party merchants selling on Amazon hit a new record. These businesses can potentially benefit from Amazon’s new device and future generations of it, not to mention the competitive implications of it. The Firefly SDK means third-parties can also take advantage of the technology through other apps.

It’s going to be quite interesting to see what kind of impact the Fire has on online shopping. It can only be good for Amazon itself.

What do you think? Is this a game changer? Meh? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Image via Amazon

  • sholeh
  • http://www.guysgab.com Guys Gab

    While it certainly has some interesting features, with the iPhone 6 right around the corner, I imagine most people will simply wait and see what Apple’s bringing to the table before making any decisions.

  • Mark Lamendola

    Yes, this is a game changer. What I most like about it is the threat it poses to Google. Recall that Google decided to destroy e-commerce for many good e-tailers that refused, for whatever reason, to pay the AdWords extortion money. The owners of those sites have mostly given up on their sites because Google hides these sites in its SERPs. They have fled to Amazon.

    So now Amazon will run circles around Google’s phone products. This is good for small e-tailers who depend on Amazon. It could also mean the beginning of the end of Google, which would be good for everyone.

    If Amazon launches its own search engine or rebrands an existing one, that would make Google mostly irrelevant to all netizens rather than just to those who can tell a real search engine from an ad spam server (the latter being what Google has degenerated into). I hope that’s the next step. Unlike Google, Amazon is an ethical company that tries to do the right things.

    Google could fight back. For example, it could fix its organic search engine by following its own Webmaster guidelines for a change, eliminating Panda, and maybe hiring someone competent to replace Matt Cutts.

  • http://www.campfirecontent.com/ w1z11

    Yeah, Jeff Bezos is about to take Amazon up another notch (or several?) I think. Already, Amazon is the “go to site” for pretty much anything, including food, vitamins, household and general consumer items, and…well, “you-name-it”, right?

    Now, with their own phone platform (designed by and for Amazon?), it can only grow even more widespread, I’m guessing. Then, once Amazon gets approval for their drone-delivery concept, they’ll leap forward yet again. I’m just sayin’…

  • Ross A Barefoot

    It absolutely will continue to put the squeeze on brick and mortars, especially mom and pops. If it catches on big time, which is probably a better than even bet, it will further sap the revenue from local merchants who have been hit by showrooming since mail order catalogs started appearing in mailboxes.

    Those small merchants won’t disappear entirely, but they will continue on their downward path. Frankly I think that the logical end of these trends is the disappearance of local service and expertise in a wide variety of specialty retail niches (I’m thinking of my own background in the bicycle industry, where specialty retailers are finding it harder and harder to survive).

    But, the trend is what it is, regardless of how I might be troubled by it. Welcome to McWorld.

  • Dave

    Wonder how long it will be for bricks & mortar shops to ban these devices? Sure, come on in to my shop, play with the product then bugger off to Amazon to buy it!
    Those who think Amazon is the answer to their Google woes are very much mistaken.
    eBay, Amazon & Google, the three greed driven corporations that ruined the online “highstreet” much like bricks & mortar high street.

  • http://www.glu7.com/ Larissa Hadley

    Awesome information may be the fire phone will change the game of ecommerce

  • http://www.friv7gaming.com friv 7

    Fire and the new features it has, believe in what Amazon put out. Hope may have superiority. When possible I will experience Fire.