When it was announced that Amazon would be making a smartphone of their own, expectations were high. With Amazon’s massive success of their Kindle eReader and their Kindle Fire tablets, a smartphone seemed like the next natural step for Amazon to take when it came to popular gadgets. However, when it came to the actual details of the Amazon smartphone, the Amazon Fire Phone, it would seem that Amazon missed the mark by a long shot.
One of the biggest issues of the Amazon Fire Phone was that the device ran on a forked version of Android that didn’t include Google services or the Google Play store, instead opting for its own Fire OS which featured the Amazon App Store – which features many of the same apps that the Google Play store does, but is still very limited. This was actually somewhat expected due to the fact that this exact same set-up is seen on the Kindle Fire tablets.
Still, what might work for a tablet won’t necessarily work for a smartphone.
Most people use their smartphones every day for a multitude of things like calling, texting, data, and of course applications. The absence of certain applications and Google services on an Android tablet is somewhat acceptable to people who are buying a Kindle Fire for occasional usage; however, even if one purchased a Kindle Fire with the anticipation of using it all the time, it still starts off as quite a bit cheaper than the Amazon Fire phone does.
I suppose you could argue that the addition of GSM and LTE that the Fire Phone might be justified at the price of $449.99, but I don’t really think that’s the case. Phones like the Moto G, Moto E, and even the Moto X are priced at less than that and offer the entirety of the Google Play store. Even as somebody who hardly goes a week without ordering something from Amazon I can’t justify that price for the Fire Phone – even with the “free” year of Amazon Prime included.
Amazon’s Fire phone is centered around Amazon’s products and services, which is expected because Amazon has a lot of products and services to offer. But to somebody who doesn’t use Amazon’s services very often, the Fire Phone is going to be a tough sell, especially at $449. There are a lot of other phones out there that would suit a non-Amazon user much better and for a cheaper price.
Amazon has already put the Fire Phone on sale for $199 a couple of times now, and I think that the phone wouldn’t have suffered as badly if that had always been the case – but I think that’s mostly because I’m an Amazon user already. For a non-Amazon user, I think that $199 isn’t such a terrible price either. After all, if you factor in the inclusion of Amazon Prime for “free” you’re looking at a $99 phone, and even without Google Services and certain applications I think that would make the Fire phone a steal. The hardware is also pretty decent as well, all things considered.
It’s a little too late for Amazon Fire to pick up now, but Amazon has made it clear that this first attempt is not their final attempt at entering the smartphone market. With their next phone I’m hoping for one (or both) of these things to happen: a cheaper initial price, or swapping out Amazon’s App Store for Google Play. Both would be ideal, but I would accept one or the other; you can’t feasibly put a high price tag on a phone with that many software limitations and expect it to sell well.
As a huge fan of Amazon’s services (including their customer service, which has never been an unpleasant experience) I hope that the next Fire phone will be a phone worth purchasing.