informa
/
News

Amazon Fire Smartphone Extinguished After Slow Sales

In a crowded smartphone market, sales of Amazon's Fire smartphone just weren't hot enough for the company to continue its existence.
iPhone 6S, iPad Pro, TV, Watch: Apple's Fall Lineup
iPhone 6S, iPad Pro, TV, Watch: Apple's Fall Lineup
(Click image for larger view and slideshow.)

On the heels of Apple's massively publicized iPhone 6S event, online retailer Amazon quietly confirmed that it has no plans to continue making its Fire smartphone, following lackluster sales.

The company's Web page for the Fire smartphone lists both versions of the Fire -- the 32GB and the 64GB -- as currently unavailable.

"We don't know when or if this item will be back in stock," according to Amazon's Web page lists.

Although the smartphones have been listed as unavailable since August, it was the tech blog Geekwire that brought the listing to wider attention, which was followed by a Sept. 9 Fortune article confirming the company's plans to abandon the Fire smartphone project.

"We sold through our inventory of the Fire phone in the U.S. and globally, and we do not plan to replenish stock at this time," an Amazon spokesperson told Fortune in an email. "We'll continue supporting our Fire phone customers."

Just last month, The Wall Street Journal reported that Amazon had enacted massive layoffs at its Silicon Valley Lab126 hardware development center, dismissing dozens of engineers.

Launched in the summer of 2014, the Fire faced an uphill battle for smartphone marketshare from the beginning, with many critics declaring the phone a flop upon release.

The Fire was available only through AT&T. It sported a hallmark feature called Dynamic Perspective, which uses four front-facing cameras and a gyroscope to track a user's movements while the operating system adjusts the user interface so that it gives the impression of depth and 3D.

In October of that year, Tom Szkutak, Amazon's chief financial officer announced the company had taken a $170 million write-down thanks to the Fire smartphone.

The end of the Fire smartphone's production is not the only area where Amazon is making adjustments to its hardware portfolio. The Journal reported earlier this week that the company is planning an ultra-budget Fire tablet priced at just $50.

[Read about Amazon's IT services.]

Amazon's cheapest tablet currently is the 6-inch Fire HD, which retails for $100. The tablet the company is currently working on would have the same size screen but some cheaper components in order to drive the price down -- for instance a stereo speaker instead of a mono speaker.

Amazon's success in the hardware space may have less to do with the quality of hardware components -- though that is important -- than it does with the ease with which users can access the company's vast library of media content, including original programming.

For instance, features like Family Library allow users to link their Amazon account to that of a spouse or partner so they can share apps, games, audiobooks, books, and Prime Video content.

Amazon is also offering its tablet buyers a free month of Prime, its premium streaming offering that also allows users to download some content, and Prime Music, which gives members unlimited, ad-free access to over a million songs, hundreds of custom-built playlists, and personalized stations with unlimited skips.