Amazon Fire Phone's 'Built-in Showrooming Tool'
Yesterday, Amazon unveiled its Fire Phone, placing special emphasis on the smartphone's "Firefly" technology, which "recognizes things in the real world--Web and e-mail addresses, phone numbers, QR and bar codes, movies, music, and millions of products, and lets you take action in seconds--all with the simple press of the Firefly button." Pre-orders are being taken for the Fire Phone, which ships July 25 and is available exclusively on AT&T's network. With a two-year contract, the 32GB version retails for $199.99 (or $649 unlocked) and the 64GB for $299.99 ($749 unlocked).
Business Insider called the Fire Phone a "showrooming nightmare," noting that it "makes Amazon an even bigger threat to brick-and-mortar retailers thanks to a feature called Firefly," which allows customers to "scan items in-person and encourages you to buy them on Amazon instead. In other words, Fire has a built-in showrooming tool."
Gizmodo observed that Firefly "turns the Fire Phone into a sort of universal object scanner that'll recognize books, DVDs, or jars of Nutella, and help you buy them--from Amazon."
On Twitter, Skylight Books, Los Angeles, Calif, commented: "Amazon's phone allows our store to now be their storefront. :( "point the phone at anything and buy it on the spot."
"Amazon launches a shopping machine and calls it a phone" was the headline of a Quartz piece that noted "Bezos has already made one thing clear: This is a shopping device."
Rebecca Lieb, an analyst with the Altimeter Group, told the New York Times that Firefly "is potentially a real threat to bricks and mortar retailers. Scan a product or listen to music, and you're delivered straight to the page on Amazon on which you can purchase it. Impulse shopping just went to a new level."
There are, however, doubters. "Not everyone thinks ecommerce is enough of a differentiator to make the Fire Phone a success, or that Amazon is doing its shareholders a favor by diving deeper into the hyper-competitive world of consumer hardware," the Verge wrote. Forrester analyst Sucharita Mulpuru commented: "It's cart before the horse to think it will change retail. The phone needs to gain adoption first. I don't think the phone is exciting enough to attract early adopters and not priced low enough to get the late adopters either."
And from Forbes: "Maybe Amazon can fight Apple, Google, Netflix, Microsoft, Rackspace, Instacart, eBay, Pandora and Samsung all at once, while simultaneously battling publishers like Hachette over e-book pricing. But Bezos can't be great at doing all of this simultaneously. And make no mistake, he's involved in everything important at Amazon."
"Will you get one?" Engadget asked its tech-oriented readers. At press time, the poll responses were: "Absolutely" (15%), "No way" (53%), and "Maybe. Let me think. (32%).