Amazon took its first steps into the ever-evoling smart phone battlegrounds last week with its introduction of the Amazon Fire Phone. A natural progression into this field, for sure, as an extension of its Kindle Fire and Fire TV, but is Amazon really going to be the next big contender in the smart phone world? I’m sure it’ll take some time to for the Fire to gain its footing and awareness spreads, but just around the water cooler that is social media, I have yet to hear of any one of my friends, family and/or co-workers rushing to ditch their iPhones or Samsungs to make way for the Fire. Normally, there’s at least a bit of chatter with the release of a new iPhone or Samsung, but I really haven’t heard much other than from reviews from tech outlets. The Amazon Fire Phone does bring several new elements to the table and it’ll be interesting to see how those elements are ultimately viewed by consumers, if they are truly positives in the Fire’s corner. Here are a few:
This is pretty much unprecedented and could serve to set a high bar. Every single photo you take with the phone is backed up to a cloud. Period. No going over storage limits ever again. If this phone takes off, this seems like a great selling feature that could become a standard across the board in order for the competition to stay in line.
3-D Display AKA Dynamic Perspective
Well, not truly 3-D, but 3-D-ish. I personally don’t know that I care all that much about this feature, especially when taking battery life into consideration. With a front facing camera to track your head and moves, the phone is watching you to create its 3-D effect. It’s cool for about 5 minutes, kinda like those stereogram posters you had to stare at in the 90s to see the hidden picture, but after seeing it everyday will it still wow?
Flinging to a Second Screen
The Amazon Fire lets you essentially “fling” a video you’re watching on the phone to a second screen via your Amazon Fire TV. This integration seems like a no brainer, but its the first of its kind to truly do that. Anyone that has tried to explain to their parents how to hookup a tablet to a TV for watching videos will be jumping for joy over this feature (I’m just hoping it sets a trend of expectation for other manufacturers!).
Mayday: Instant Tech Support
Much like what already exists for the Kindle Fire, the Amazon Fire Phone will have an integrated Mayday app that allows users to immediately connect to support. Depending on how hard the phone is to use, this feature may be well-used or simply viewed as a nice-to-have.
Probably one of the most heavily touted new features of the Amazon Fire Phone, Firefly is a one-button launching pad for getting information. If it hears a song, it’ll not only identify it through Shazam, but also prompt you to buy it on Amazon or look for tickets on Stubhub. If you take a picture of a barcode, Firefly’ll automatically pull it up at Amazon.com for a one-click purchase. It can even identify book covers and art, directing you purchase through Amazon.com. This feature seems like the key reason for Amazon to get into the smart phone business in the first place. Amazon benefits the most from showrooming, so why not essentially endorse it and give consumers a scanner that also happens to be a phone and a camera?
Though these features can be found in various apps, this is the first time it will be innate with a phone and it should be a glaring red light for retailers, who are already concerned with showrooming. So what does this mean for retailers? I think it’s going to require aggressive action to combat showrooming, by offering to match or beat prices, ensuring their stores are stocked properly, educating their salespeople and offering free, quick shipping for when someone wants to purchase a product the store does not have in immediate stock.
For instance, I was in DSW over the weekend and saw POS in several places throughout the store exclaiming “Can’t find your size? We’ll ship it to you for free.” At this particular store, they also had sales associates out in the aisles offering to check you out in addition to the registers, which is a tactic more and more retailers are using to combat showrooming. Your shoppers’ time is valuable and considering they don’t have to wait in line to check out online, in many cases, it’s just one click; retailers should be making every effort to make check out a smooth, easy and personal experience already, but even more so, if your stores are susceptible to showrooming.
So, ultimately, is the Amazon Fire Phone built for consumers with their needs in mind or a product that consumers will use that pushes purchases to Amazon above all else? And that’s the thing. I have yet to read a review that remarked about the Amazon Fire’s actual phone capabilities. Is this device more of a supped-up, easy touch retail scanner that also happens to have camera and phone functions? Consumers will have to be the judge.