Opinion: Amazons “Fire Phone” burns creators, feeds consumers

Opinion: Amazons “Fire Phone” burns creators, feeds consumers
Editor at TechForge Media. Often sighted at global tech conferences with a coffee in one hand and laptop in the other. If it's geeky, I'm probably into it.

Rather than teaching the next-generation to create, we’re teaching them to consume. Amazon unveiled its anticipated Fire Phone yesterday and the company has removed almost all of Android’s productive abilities and replaced them with the ability to easily buy and consume Amazon content. It really solidifies the viewpoint.

One of the key features of the Fire Phone is ‘Firefly’ where you can point at almost any object with the device’s camera in order to purchase it. This is an impressive feat of technology, but for the majority of us simply being able to point at an object to buy it just isn’t sustainable by our wallets. Sorry, Jeff.

Millionaires (at least self-made) surely require more functionality than what the Fire Phone offers. Not only does it run an older version of Android (4.2 whereas the latest is 4.4 and 5.0 is expected to be announced at Google I/O later this month…) but apps can only be installed from the Amazon Store which is limited when compared to the Play Store.

Where is the market for the Fire Phone?

The standout feature which Amazon is hoping will differentiate the smartphone from the competition to the consumer is its ‘Dynamic Perspective’ display. Aspects of the OS, such as Maps, have functional value being able to move the display around but the rest is just a battery-sucking gimmick.

Amazon’s biggest barrier to their devices is the lack of apps available for their forked version of Android. Adding complicated aspects such as Dynamic Perspective to an already fragmented OS is not going to entice developers to focus on bolstering their app catalogue – especially when running an old OS version.

Mark Mason, CEO & Founder of award-winning app developer Mubaloo says: “Just like the Kindle Fire HD, the Fire Phone is only adding to the fragmentation of developing for Android. The fact that it’s adding another dimension to thinking about dynamic tilting, and designing that into apps is a further issue. Amazon wants developers to create apps specifically for this phone, doing so requires optimising for Amazon’s forked Android.”

He continues: “It’s an interesting concept, but ultimately a bit of a gimmick, seemingly firmly aimed at the consumer market. Whilst we can see people enjoying the initial experience of being able to look at objects dynamically, it’s likely to get old, quickly. The Fire phone is basically a glorified hand held POS to the Amazon store, there aren’t likely to be many applications for this device in the enterprise market.”

Fitness apps and devices are big news this year, and the major ecosystem holders are launching their own health platforms in response to its demand. Due to Fire Phone running on 4.2, Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) isn’t supported which means trackers such as the FitBit aren’t either. There’s no timeline as to when an update will be available.

So where are the features which are purely for the consumer’s benefit? How about the much-touted camera and the unlimited Cloud photo storage which the company has thrown-in to go alongside it? Think again.

Amazon’s Cloud is undoubtedly scanning those images using its Firefly technology and pulling information such as geolocation in order to better recommend what else you may like to purchase. Taken a picture of a mountain? You may like hiking gear. Uploaded some baby photos? You might want to stock up on nappies. Make sure you check those Terms & Conditions this time before hitting “Accept”…

Amazon should be paying you to use this phone considering how much they’ll undoubtedly recoup over the period you’ll be using it, but how much do they want? Unlocked will set you back $649. On a contract (which is exclusive to AT&T) will be $32.50 per month on a 20 month installment agreement as part of the Next 12, or $27.09 per month with a 24 month agreement for the Next 18 plan.

What do you think about Amazon’s Fire Phone? Let us know in the comments.

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