Amazon’s Fire Phone: 12 executives give their opinions

amazon fire phoneWhat did executives across the wider mobile industry in the UK make of last night’s launch of the Amazon Fire Phone?

I asked a series of executives from a wide variety of companies to give us their viewpoints. I also asked them to give us a one liner description on their company for a bit of context too.

Ok, here we go…

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Charles Cadbury, CEO of putitout

It is the ultimate feature phone. The feature is shopping. It is trying to deliver a feature that companies like POWA are offering through third party software. Amazon has trust which will be all important for consumer adoption.

A large proportion of consumers are more passionate for shopping on Amazon, know and understand the experience, than are passionate about 3rd party applications.  In one device you are delivered the ability to easily buy anything in the world using a service you can trust.  If that’s all the phone did it would be great, but there’s much more.

The Amazon app store is limited especially if you are used and enjoy any of Google’s apps which are notable absent. However, if you want a well featured phone which is great at shopping this should be high on your list and should be a hit in the city dwelling consumerist world that is eating us.

putitout is a leading technology agency focused on digital and emerging trends.

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Peter Wood, CEO of IDT Systems

With Amazon.com launching a Smartphone of its own, the vibrations running through the technology industry are palpable. The effect this will have on the Smartphone industry are substantial. Consumers are constantly looking for the newest and most innovative device and if Amazon’s Smartphone offers the suggested 3D viewing capabilities, the usual players may find their hold decreasing. In an industry as volatile as this, the accessories market needs to do its utmost to keep up.

Consumers are getting impatient; the minute a phone is released, they want the accessories to accompany it and expect to be given a choice to make it their own. With these brand new devices entering the market, accessories haven’t been mass produced as yet, but retailers need to be prepared, forward thinking and plan for what might be the next big thing … or the next three minute wonder.

IDT Systems is a leading systems provider delivering 3D and 2D surface decoration solutions for most materials, across the consumer electronics and mobile phone accessory space and is responsible for creating 95% of the mobile accessory market.

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Mark Mason, CEO & Founder, Mubaloo

Just like the Kindle Fire HD, the Fire Phone is only adding to the fragmentation of developing for Android. The fact that it’s adding another dimension to thinking about dynamic tilting, and designing that into apps is a further issue. Amazon wants developers to create apps specifically for this phone, doing so requires optimising for Amazon’s forked Android. It’s an interesting concept, but ultimately a bit of a gimmick, seemingly firmly aimed at the consumer market. Whilst we can see people enjoying the initial experience of being able to look at objects dynamically, it’s likely to get old, quickly. The Fire phone is basically a glorified hand held POS to the Amazon store, there aren’t likely to be many applications for this device in the enterprise market.

Having said that, the Amazon App Store is growing and as it is controlled by Amazon, there is less chance of rogue apps getting through onto the store. The Fire phone provides an opportunity for developers, time will tell how much of an opportunity it is.

Mubaloo is the UK’s leading enterprise and consumer app development company.

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Martin McNulty, CEO at digital agency Forward3D

The Amazon Fire Phone with its dedicated FireFly button is exactly the kind of show rooming tech that supports our view, that this is about bridging real world objects and online. Accompanied by real world product detection application, this gives Amazon the power to operate on the high street. By allowing users to match products using it’s hand set Amazon hope to undercut those high street stores effectively turning them into little more than showrooms for good, Amazon will then deliver. At every turn, consumers will be able to find products and check prices.

Amazon’s efficiency in delivery services will mean it can now actively challenge the immediacy of the high street whilst also amassing swathes of data on consumers shopping behaviour.  That is of course, as long as Amazon can produce record breaking sales figures and polarise Samsung and Apple’s market share, with a phone that the media are already calling the Shopping Phone.

Forward3D is an independent global e-commerce and digital marketing agency, with localised services in over 45 markets.

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Matt Graham, Tech Consultant, Apadmi

The new features enabled by the new SDKs provide interesting opportunities, and we look forward to finding out how our customers will exploit them. On the other hand, Amazon risks diverging too far from the base Android platform, which could make life difficult for developers.

Apadmi is an expert in mobile technology, creating exceptional brand led mobile experiences that inspire business and end consumers alike.

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Paul Bennun, Chief Creative Officer at Somethin’ Else

To unpick what this device is about is to unpick where Amazon, Google, Samsung and Apple are trying to kill each other. It’s the first time an iOS competitor has genuinely looked at its own advantages and built user-centred features around them.

Our devices are interpreters of the world and providers of diversion. If you’re choosing a device for diversion (an app and content ecosystem), you buy an iPhone. If you want to buy a machine that interprets the world, Google would like your business, but no-one buys an Android phone. No-one. They buy a Samsung.

Amazon have an unrivalled content and product ecosystem. Amazon want you to be seduced by a face-tracking, tilt-activated pseudo 3D user interface, but they really want you to use the dedicated button on the phone.

This is a button which turns the whole world into a showroom for Amazon’s inventory.

Now you’ve got a device which will interpret the world, tell you what you’re looking at, and let you buy it with one click. Amazon is hoping this utility will be something users really want; of course we won’t know until the device escapes the AT&T lock-in. But at least someone’s competing with Apple on features, not mimicry or marketing.

Somethin’ Else is a content agency specialising in original content across games, interactivity, radio, TV and social media.

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Jason Mander, Head of Trends at Global Web Index

At first glance, the AmazonFire phone’s 3D functionality is a nice-to-have rather than an essential and is unlikely to tempt significant numbers away from the established market leaders like Apple and Samsung.

Amazon can market this heavily as a content-consumption device. Just a fifth of internet users globally are using their phones to watch content on-demand – less than half the number who do this on PCs or Laptops. But with free access to Amazon’s Prime library and content pre-loaded to the phone, users will be able to watch safe in the knowledge that their data allowance is not in jeopardy and that they won’t face challenges trying to access content while out-and-about.

Global Web Index is the world’s largest ongoing multi-market research study into the digital consumer, GWI interview 170,000 people every year, in 32 global markets, representing 89% of the global internet population.

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Marco Veremis, CEO, Upstream

Amazon entered the smartphone battleground yesterday as it unveiled its first mobile device, the Amazon Fire.  The move will give Western consumers another handset to consider in the very-crowded smartphone marketplace, and while the 3D functionality may appeal to Western consumers because of its innovation, will Amazon achieve the cut-through it needs to make the product a global success?

While the device may not compete with the hardware giants of Apple and Samsung, it may serve its own purpose of promoting Amazon’s online marketplace through better imagery to Western consumers. However, in India, Nigeria, Brazil, Vietnam and China, only 21% of consumers currently spend or want to spend money with Amazon (Upstream’s The Next Mobile Frontier Report).

Therefore, rather than creating products to reinforce an already successful marketplace in the West, Amazon needs to look to emerging markets if it wants to become a leading online marketplace worldwide. This is perhaps a more strategic priority to grow in the regions where Amazon is falling behind opposed to continuing to stick to areas of strength.

Upstream is a global mobile marketing technology company.

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Gareth Davies, CEO of Adbrain 

The launch of the Fire Phone is aligned with Amazon’s long game – collecting user data. Amazon already has incredibly rich data on consumers’ purchasing habits; if it sells a decent number of Fire Phones it will be able to combine that data with the rich behavioural and location data inherent to mobile and sharpen both its advertising and retail propositions. It all comes back to the shop in the end.

Adbrain is a company with a multiscreen audience-buying platform.

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Greg Weinger, Technical Product Manager, Urban Airship

With the release of its new Fire Phone today, Amazon enters the global smartphone market in a development we think will be great for consumers and the industry.

We’ve been watching this development with excitement, and have every reason to believe this new smartphone is going to be highly successful and potentially disruptive. Amazon already has one of the best-selling tablets on the market. With its thriving mobile app ecosystem, robust web services, content distribution and shopping infrastructure, plus the fact that most Android and HTML5 apps will already work on Fire, Amazon is well-positioned to take a significant share of the still-growing smartphone market and give developers greater distribution almost automatically.

We’re going to be watching closely in the coming weeks and months to see how quickly developers pursue new opportunities created by Amazon’s Fire Phone and its growing app ecosystem.

Urban Airship is the leading mobile relationship management specialist.

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Les Yates, marketing manager at The Snugg

Spec-wise, the Amazon Fire Phone isn’t breaking any new ground.  For serious tech fans, there’s not much there that they can’t get from the iPhone 5s or the Galaxy S5.  The 3D depth perspective user interface certainly looks impressive, but I’m not sure it can win over the general smartphone-buying public.  It could definitely appeal to more casual smartphone users – especially thanks to its robust rubber build – but Amazon hasn’t really priced it competitively enough.

However, what really could be exciting is the Kindle Phone’s Firefly feature.  Being able to recognise products in real life, instantly price-check, and order them online could revolutionize the shopping industry.  Firefly means users can browse physical stores’ CDs and DVDs but purchase them off Amazon, which might not sit too well with bricks-and-mortar retailers.  If the Fire Phone really takes off, we could see the online and physical shopping worlds coming closer together than ever.

The Snugg is a leading online retailer of tablet and smartphone protective cases and accessories.

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Cathal McGloin, CEO, FeedHenry

The Amazon Fire Smartphone offers innovative mobile retail features and is likely to find its way into the enterprise through BYOD programmes. From our point of view, the devices that employees select are less important than the information that they process. The key for enterprise apps is the control and security of integrating data from backend enterprise systems and making it available to the apps on devices. Business units should have the flexibility to choose the devices and apps that will do the job for their particular need while IT watches over the integration and management of these deployments.

Early indicators are that there’s more work to be done to excite consumers, who in turn may take Amazon Fire into the work environment. There are a lot of possibilities with Firefly but also some serious limitations for the enterprise. The core limitation is that the object recognition part has to be done by Amazon and cannot be extended. What you can do is write plugins which are triggered when certain objects are recognised and then run business logic to retrieve additional information. Another major limitation is the lack of support for hybrid apps or iOS. Just betting on native Android will not cut it for most enterprises, which need the flexibility to develop for multiple devices. Let’s see how the developer community reacts and whether app toolkits will be developed for Amazon Fire that extend the support for it.

FeedHenry provides a cloud-based mobile application platform that simplifies the development, deployment and management of  mobile apps for enterprises.

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There we go. I particularly like running these opinion style features because you get so many different perspectives in one post! Thank you to everyone for taking the time to send me their opinions.

What do you think? Will you be first in line for the $649 Amazon Fire Phone?

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