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