It’s official: Amazon’s Fire Phone is a total flop

Amazon Fire Phone

Well this is a little embarrassing. When Amazon launched the Fire Phone, we were pretty sure that it had the potential to do really well. That hasn’t happened. Not even slightly. Four months after its launch, the Fire Phone is officially a flop.

While Amazon won’t tell us exactly how much of a flop, there are some clues if you know where to look. For starters, the ecommerce giant is reporting a US$170-million charge on inventory requirements thanks poor Fire Phone sales. Then there’s the fact that you can now pick up a Fire Phone for as little as US$1 with a US carrier contract. That’s a pretty steep discount on a phone that cost US$199 with a contract at launch.

So what went wrong? Well that price is a pretty good starting point. Its build quality simply wasn’t good enough for such an expensive device, especially when you compare it to similarly priced devices from various Android players.

Then there’s the OS itself: a retooled version of Android that only allows people access to Amazon’s far more limited app store. That hasn’t been too much of a problem for the company’s tablet line, but it just doesn’t cut the mustard when it comes to smartphones. This is, after all, the device category we carry around with us at all times.

Amazon tried to get around this with a load of gimmicks, including a 3D-ish trick called “Dynamic Perspective” and a feature called Firefly, which allows you to take a photo of something and then buy it on Amazon.

The latter could have been a killer feature if the phone was worth buying. As it is, the mobile payment feature we’re all talking about is (surprise, surprise), the one Apple built. And that, at least in part, is because it comes on a phone worth talking about.



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