Amazon Fire Smartphone Extinguished After Slow Sales - InformationWeek

InformationWeek is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

IoT
IoT
Mobile // Mobile Devices
News
9/10/2015
09:36 AM
50%
50%

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.

(Image: Amazon)

(Image: Amazon)

"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.

Nathan Eddy is a freelance writer for InformationWeek. He has written for Popular Mechanics, Sales & Marketing Management Magazine, FierceMarkets, and CRN, among others. In 2012 he made his first documentary film, The Absent Column. He currently lives in Berlin. View Full Bio

We welcome your comments on this topic on our social media channels, or [contact us directly] with questions about the site.
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
soozyg
50%
50%
soozyg,
User Rank: Ninja
9/11/2015 | 7:37:32 AM
Re: amusing marketing
@Thomas, I like that...remote control for shopping. I get so much delivery that I think that my desktop is big remote control. lol
soozyg
50%
50%
soozyg,
User Rank: Ninja
9/11/2015 | 7:34:48 AM
Re: amusing marketing
I just found it amusing that the benefits they promoted actually benefitted Amazon, not the user. Bad planning.
soozyg
50%
50%
soozyg,
User Rank: Ninja
9/11/2015 | 7:31:29 AM
Re: amusing marketing
Good point. I didn't even consider the updates. Yes, how often would the technology improve? And how good was the customer service? So true.
Thomas Claburn
50%
50%
Thomas Claburn,
User Rank: Author
9/10/2015 | 4:41:45 PM
Re: amusing marketing
Amazon can't succeed as a hardware seller when the preception is that its products are better for Amazon than they are for its customers. The Kindle is an exception in that Amazon is actually providing a valuable service and it was early to market. The mobile phone however is more than a remote control for shopping.
impactnow
50%
50%
impactnow,
User Rank: Author
9/10/2015 | 4:25:24 PM
Re: amusing marketing

Exactly it did not ever discuss the benefits of the phone it just made the phone seem like an access point to the website. It was a huge marketing misstep. It's the right move to leave the market it's just unfortunately for all the people that bought the phonaeand are now left with an abandoned device. They should at least offer these people a credit of some sort or it will certainly impact their future product introductions.

Stratustician
50%
50%
Stratustician,
User Rank: Ninja
9/10/2015 | 3:21:14 PM
Re: amusing marketing
I think that's exactly what turned a lot of folks off the device.  There was an assumption that this would basically be a gateway for Amazon to push more products and services, and as a result, it would limit the functionality of the device.  Additionally, when it comes to OS, for me personally, when I see so many versions of Android devices coming out, I worry that there will be no updates on the OS after it's initial launch, or minimal product evolution.  I really don't want a phone that will be outdated the minute a new version of Android comes out.
soozyg
50%
50%
soozyg,
User Rank: Ninja
9/10/2015 | 2:05:21 PM
amusing marketing
I thought it was amusing that the company tried to sell the phone by promoting 1 free year of Amazon Prime and easy buying with an Amazon icon right on the homepage. 
Commentary
Augmented Analytics Drives Next Wave of AI, Machine Learning, BI
Jessica Davis, Senior Editor, Enterprise Apps,  3/19/2020
Slideshows
How Startup Innovation Can Help Enterprises Face COVID-19
Joao-Pierre S. Ruth, Senior Writer,  3/24/2020
Commentary
Enterprise Guide to Robotic Process Automation
Cathleen Gagne, Managing Editor, InformationWeek,  3/23/2020
White Papers
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
Video
Current Issue
IT Careers: Tech Drives Constant Change
Advances in information technology and management concepts mean that IT professionals must update their skill sets, even their career goals on an almost yearly basis. In this IT Trend Report, experts share advice on how IT pros can keep up with this every-changing job market. Read it today!
Slideshows
Flash Poll