Amazon Working On A Phone Again: Fire Replaced With Ice – Forbes
Amazon might announce a new phone, the name will be the exact opposite of the Fire Phone. So when will we see an Ice Phone and is it actually a good idea?
Amazon, you will probably remember, tried its hand at a mobile phone before. The Fire Phone was not a success either critically or financially. Why? Because it didn’t really offer much of value for most users. It might sound weird to say, but Amazon isn’t the same company as it was when it released the Fire Phone.
Alexa is huge and very important
For one thing, I suspect that Amazon is going to make use of Alexa in a new phone. We’ve seen this with tablets and with AI and voice assistants becoming more common in phones it makes sense that Amazon’s excellent Alexa gets to stretch her legs on a truly mobile device.
Alexa makes a lot of sense on a phone for one reason – integration. You want to be able to use Alexa when you’re out and about much like you do when you’re at home. Perhaps it’s about adding things to a shopping list when you’re driving home. Or simply using Alexa’s excellent voice control for listening to music on the move.
India will help
Amazon’s Fire Phone had very limited availability. This in itself didn’t kill the device, but it didn’t help. Rumours suggest that an Amazon Ice phone would launch quickly in India. Becuase these devices aren’t high-end they would appeal to a massive market that has a lot of customers looking for low-cost devices. As big as the US and Europe are for Amazon, India has more than a billion people aged seven and up. That’s more than the US and EU combined.
It won’t be tied to Amazon exclusively
One of the biggest mistakes of the Fire Phone was the fact it didn’t include Google’s Play app store. Anyone who has owned an Android Phone will have used the Play store and will have built up their own app and game collections. Moving to a new phone OS means you have to ditch all of that and while some people switch from iOS to Android, they won’t chance a minority OS.
Even though the Fire Phone was Android, it didn’t have access to the all-important Google services. The rumour is that a new device will run Android instead of Amazon’s Fire OS. That means your phone will be much like an Android device with your apps and games ready to go. You’ll also have the Amazon app store though, which has plenty of good stuff to offer – notably, free games.
Amazon is entering the telecom space with video and audio calling
Bear in mind that the new Amazon Echo Show is being sold on the back of video calls. Amazon has already said non-Echo users will be able to use its app to make calls. But it would be far better to have a phone which, like Apple’s Facetime, makes calls without the need to flap about in a clunky app.
Amazon understands its audience now
Amazon’s understanding of its customers is getting better all the time. Take a look at tablets for confirmation of this, where the firm used to make premium tablets it’s now gone exclusively for the budget end of the market. Why? Because Amazon’s customers put value-for-money above all else.
Anyone spending premium money on their phone or tablet will more than likely end up with an iPad, iPhone, Galaxy S8 or a Galaxy Tab. These are the premium products that people lust after. For any future Amazon phone the rule needs to be “sell cheap, make money on shopping”.
And that’s the reality of Amazon now – its products drive more and more custom to its store. Take Prime, it’s widely understood that customers who opt for the yearly subscription for faster shipping are spending more money on Amazon than non-Prime customers. But The Street reports that it’s even better than thatÂ because Amazon Prime customers spend progressively more for each year they keep the service.
I suspect it doesn’t even matter to Amazon if you’re actually paying for Prime. It has a lead on the market in terms of fast shipping. In the UK I can press the button before 1 pm and have the product I ordered that evening. Worst case an Amazon delivery will reach me the next day. And there’s almost no comparison in retail that comes close, and this is likely the reason Amazon customers spend more on the site: it’s a great retail experience.
So, the Ice Phone would be cheap. It will be good enough for 80% of users and cheap enough for anyone to be able to buy if they want it.
Amazon learns from its mistakes
There is little doubt that Amazon makes mistakes, we’ve seen a decent amount of them. But what’s also quite certain is that mistakes at Amazon can be converted into success. The large cost of the Fire Phone’s failure won’t have troubled anyone at the company for too long. Amazon knows what worked and what didn’t and it likely has detailed information on how the Fire Phone was used, and how it wasn’t.
So expect the Ice Phone to really sort all of those problems out. It will be sensibly-priced, have access to Android and be available with access to the best of Amazon and the best of Android. For those handsets at the low-end of the market, this is going to be troubling. For Apple and most of Samsung’s business, things won’t change much.
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