Amazon has announced its first foray into the smartphone market with the launch of its new device, the Fire handset, but its cost and limitations will put a smile on the faces of rivals Apple, Google and Microsoft, says industry analysts.
While the crowded smartphone sector is already dominated by financially strong competitors such as Samsung and Apple, as well as lower-cost rivals from Asia, Amazon’s chief executive Jeff Bezos believes that by controlling the smartphone home screen, he can push more of the company’s offerings to consumers. Having its own smartphone device would allow the Internet giant to push access to its webstore and digital content - music, films and games – to consumers.
Richard Windsor of Radio Free Mobile believes that having an expensive phone with no ecosystem does not make a hit. The smartphone Fire is a high-end device with a HD screen with 3D graphics effects, 2.2Ghz quad-core CPU, 2GB of RAM and 32GB of storage. “The first problem is that the screen is too small for a device in this price category, but I suspect that this is because of the limitations of implementing the 3D effect in a glasses-free manner.” This is especially the case when considering the fact that the device comes at $199 from AT&T with a two-year contract or $649 with no contract, he continued.
Windsor said that Amazon is asking users to spend the same money that they would on an iPhone for a “gimmicky device that has no ecosystem” and very few apps. “This device is not going to pull users in as the device is the same price as the iPhone and then user has to pay another $99 to get access to the services.” However, one features he likes is the smartphone’s ability to recognise an object via the camera and then take the user to the website to buy that item.
As many Amazon Prime users already have a Kindle Fire, the new offering will not add very much to the ecosystem, said Wilson, adding that it is “already very tablet centric”. Amazon needs to maximise that opportunity by making its ecosystem "compelling" and then releasing a handset - "not the other way round”.
Until things become more coherent, he suggests that “Amazon is likely to remain a great retailer and a great cloud computing provider but nothing more”.