It has been two years since Amazon discontinued its first smartphone, the Fire Phone. It was a handset that, in theory, would do quite well for itself, considering the presence Amazon held even back then. A smartphone that was baked in with Amazon essentials, from digital books, music, the Amazon digital storefront, and more.
The Fire Phone from Amazon had a lot of interesting features. Some of them standard Amazon fare, including X-Ray to get in-depth information about whatever it was you were watching on the phone. It had that "Dynamic Perspective," which made it seem like some user interface elements had depth. (3D features were heavily rumored for the device ahead of its announcement.)
It had Firefly, which let Fire Phone owners use the smartphone's cameras to identify a product, like a book or TV shows, and then quickly launch the store to buy it.
Some of these features have found their way into current generation smartphones, albeit much improved from three years ago. So it is sort of safe to say that the Fire Phone was at least in part ahead of its time. Unfortunately, the device didn't catch on, and it took Amazon only a year after the device's launch to discontinue it.
Apparently that experience in the smartphone market had a lasting effect, because there haven't been any consistent rumors that Amazon would actually try it again. At least, not until relatively recently. Back in June there was a report that Amazon was considering launching a low-end smartphone called the Ice Phone, and that it would allow apps from the Google Play Store this time around.
I understand why Amazon would make several important changes to any new smartphone it might launch, but I don't think the company should be ruled out completely. The Fire Phone was a misstep, but the company could learn from that and build up from there. There are so many people out there that use Amazon, for shopping and other services, that a smartphone from the company --without relying too heavily on gimmicks and lacking Google support-- could do very well.
I'd venture to say that it would have to have either stock Android on board, or something pretty close to it, though. That heavily skinned version of Android back then with the Fire Phone was almost abysmal in use.
Still, I think it could have a shot at picking up some sales at least. Would it replace the Android juggernaut, Samsung, or Apple's iPhone, at the top of the pile? No. But with Amazon working hard on other hardware elements, like the Echo smart speaker family, a new smartphone doesn't seem that crazy.
Or maybe it is. Amazon could be doing the right thing by not even trying to enter the crowded smartphone market. After all, the company is putting its digital personal assistant, Alexa, on devices right out of the box. Maybe that's the right path.
Would you ever consider a new Amazon-branded smartphone? If they came out in 2018 with a new flagship, high-end smartphone, what would it take for you to think about picking one up? Let me know!