[telecom] Amazon Fire Phone's Missed Opportunities

Amazon Fire Phone's Missed Opportunities

JUNE 18, 2014 Farhad Manjoo

SEATTLE - When Amazon invited the media and hundreds of its most loyal customers to witness the unveiling of a new device on Wednesday, everyone thought the company would introduce a smartphone made in the mold of its line of tablet computers: pretty good and really cheap.

Everyone was wrong. Though the device is called the Fire phone, Amazon's new gadget is less a phone than a pocketable cash register hooked directly into the retailer's intelligent warehouses. And it's not cheap. The Fire phone sells for $199 with a two-year AT&T contract. Although it also comes with a free one-year subscription to Amazon's Prime membership, the Fire phone is essentially the same price as high-end phones made by Apple and Samsung.

For Amazon, a company whose previous devices have had innovative pricing plans that often involved selling devices at cost, the Fire phone's uninspired price tag is a surprising disappointment. The world needed a great, cheap smartphone. With its huge reach, obsessive dedication to customer service, and a willingness to forgo immediate profits, Amazon seems uniquely capable of delivering such a device.


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