After years of rumors that Amazon was going to release its own smartphone, the giant e-tailer finally announced the Fire yesterday. Many people expected the device to have good specs and a low price, like the company’s KIndle Fire line of tablets. But Amazon surprised those people … and not in a good way.
The phone has decent specs, including a 4.7″ screen and quad-core processor, and a largely gimmicky 3-D feature, but it doesn’t compete with the latest flagship phones like Samsung’s Galaxy S5 or the HTC One (M8), or the eagerly anticipated, yet-to-be-announced iPhone 6. And then there’s the price. The same $199 on-contract that the S5 and M8 sell for. Add in the fact that it’s, at least for now, an AT&T exclusive — a throwback to the early days of smartphones that seemed to have gone away — and the Fire probably isn’t going to be as successful or game-changing as people expected.
Facebook released a mid-range phone as an AT&T exclusive last year for $99.99 on-contract and sales were so bad, the carrier discontinued the device after just a month. Amazon hopes its name and some bonuses, including a free year of Amazon Prime and unlimited photo storage, will help prevent its first smartphone from meeting the same fate. Although it’ll probably be more successful than Facebook’s First, I’m not convinced it will be nearly as successful as the Kindle Fire tablets.