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Amazon's Fire Phone Isn't for You!

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Yesterday Amazon's Jeff Bezos announced to 300 tech hungry journalists Amazon's new Fire Phone. The tech media already spilled the beans long before the event and those who really cared had pretty much got excited and then lost interest, or maybe that was just me.

Bezos and his Amazon empire are really smart, stupid smart in fact. They know what they are doing, and why they are doing it. They're not confused about where they are, who they are, and why they are going where they are. What started as selling books online has turned into a multifaceted retail empire. They've managed to monetize their data centers and coined the term "the cloud". They created a device just to read a book and called it the kindle, then a tablet. Better yet, I now pay yearly for a service called Prime, just so I can be lazy and not be bothered with going to a store to buy goods.

Amazon early on took a queue from another empire we all know so well, Google. Google has always done one thing really well.

All roads point to Google's core business, search, and really its advertising muscle.

Like Google, Amazon has in fact perfected the notion of all roads leading to Amazon's core business, retail. But a phone, really? That just seems like, "hey, I want to be at this party too". I mean, what isn't working today about the apps today on iOS, Android, or even Windows Phone?

Introducing Amazon's Fire Phone

Yesterday Bezos announced yet another mobile phone with an exclusive on AT&T. I don't mean to knock it, but it's really just another Android phone. To be honest I haven't held one, so that is just my own conjecture. It has a few gimmicks such that it should stand out and therefor will get picked up and looked at in a retail setting. They claim they it's different, it's ahead of the game with so many hundreds of thousand of apps, a beautiful display, 4 cameras on the front and even gorilla glass on the back. {cough cough more to just break when you drop it. }

To top it off, it was also priced like all the other phones on the market today. This really surprised me. Amazon has usually been pretty damn good at giving you a device at a more than reasonable price.

So I sat there scratching my head asking, "really, why, wtf". If we look over at Microsoft, we know they are struggling to crack the mobile market, so how does Bezos think another Android clone will be the answer? Are you really going up against the Apple, the Google, the Microsoft, with a mediocre phone with a few new Amazon apps? For Amazon history all roads point to Amazon's retail. I have to believe that Bezos is watching Microsoft's performance and if they can only get to 3% with a pretty darn good product, how is it that Amazon plans to take over?

Maybe Jeff and the Amazon wizards are planning to ride this new bug they call firefly. But you have to ask yourself, is firefly really what people were looking for? Don't get me wrong image recognition is very cool but I highly doubt it's what I'm looking for. When I can take a picture of an auto part and then have you tell me something, anything about it, then sign me up. Taking a picture of a CD cover or a book us useless when I can just flip it over and scan the barcode. Oh wait, the already exiting Amazon mobile apps already do this and make the one click buying too damn easy. So, is this really better or is this just another gimmick. Hopefully this isn't their their entire plan.

MAYDAY, MAYDAY! This is the USS AMAZON

MAYDAY

This just seems like such a misstep for Amazon and I am left asking myself is there really room for another big tech company trying to make a mobile device. Hell Microsoft has now been at this for a number of years and while they have a quality product and not some carbon copy of Apple or Google, let's face it, they continue to struggle compared to what Apple and Google have accomplished. Jeff you can say the Fire Phone is different but that sounds like a tag line Microsoft in fact stole from Apple.

MAYDAY! Yes, pun intended. The Kindle Fire has long shipped with a feature called MayDay. In short, you get stuck, you have a problem, hit the big red button and what appears is an Amazon wizard ready to save you.

I know what you're thinking, we will just drop that app in the folder of useless apps along with firefly. I've got this mobile stuff down. You're right, and I do too but I've now come to this conclusion, this was never for us. In fact Amazon already knew this. So then who is it for?

Well, I think this if for the Baby Boomers.

The Fire Phone has this feature baked in at it's core. It's been tested on the Kindle Fire for a number of years. Better yet, it solves a real problem, one that a segment of users have. Some people just need help. Worst yet, their afraid to explore their device, touch it, as if somehow the germs from their fingers will introduce a virus forever calling all of their contacts and draining their bank account of their retirement money.

You might laugh, but I in fact sincerely mean it. Those users are out there, there are a large number of them and they are known as, the baby boomers.

New Opportunities

This generation, these baby boomers, is a tough nut to crack. I know this all too well as they are my parents, the baby boomers. This is a generation who has grown up with technology and has started to become afraid of it. They in fact created the foundation of what's exploded today. Hell this generation was the generation made the first mobile phone call from the Motorola DynaTac, they created the smart phone.

Ironically, I think the Fire Phone is their smart phone. Bezos is going after this demographic. If Amazon is about building highways to their retail then here is a huge pile of cars who are not on that road today. They don't have Amazon Prime, in fact they go to the grocery store, Walmart, wherever. They couldn't fathom paying $100 a year to get UPS to ship faster when they can just drive up the road and get what they need. Some are even still carrying around old mobile phones and proclaim they will not ever need a "smart phone". They would rather read a newspaper than pay for a data plan as they don't really need the news as it arrives or for that matter their email. To top it off, they are getting older. Let's say you drop an app off the main screen, it's not unlike it for them to freak out a bit as if someone moved their cheese and therefore their phone must have a virus. MAYDAY, MAYDAY, I need help. Please tell me what to do, where to touch my phone.

Think about this for a second. This might just be a brilliant move. A phone at the price of all the others, free prime for a year, and best yet if you hvae any troubles hit the MAYDAY button and you can reach either AT&T or Amazon for help. Amazon just shipped a new car warranty, and put them on the highway to potentially become a regular prime user. They know what they are doing, it's brilliant and if I am right, they might just open some huge doors for us app developers.

Developers Take Note

This could represent a brand new and a very large demographic for all of us app developers. Today's app marketplaces are pretty overrun with things centered at the younger generation. It's expected but if you're a baby boomer you might not actually care about Candy Crush, Twitter, Instagram. But you know what, that generation also has disposable money they just need more help.

Yes this is my opinion, and it's free. I hope I am right. The mobile industry is awesome, it's changed the way my family has lived their life. While the potential for an older generation is mostly untapped, MAYDAY might be the insurance policy that gets us there, only time will tell.

~ Clark


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Published at DZone with permission of Clark Sell, DZone MVB. See the original article here.

Opinions expressed by DZone contributors are their own.

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