This week the tech world’s been left scrambling after billionaire entrepreneur Jeff Bezos announced he would be stepping down as CEO of Amazon.
The news has huge ramifications for the world at large with Amazon having its fingers in pretty much every pie you can think of, leaving many speculating what Bezos plans to do next and what potential impact it will have on the firm’s future. But for me, there’s one potential positive that could come from a leadership shakeup at Amazon: a better focus on mobile hardware.
It’s no secret that Amazon has been incredibly successful with its own brand hardware in numerous verticals. The Kindle is one of the most widely used e-readers in the world, as are its Echo-family smart speakers. Fire tablets also remain great devices for families looking for a kid-friendly entertainment hub and the Fire TV sticks and boxes are constant best sellers.
Which is why it’s so odd the firm’s never made similar in-roads with mobile, especially considering it made a pretty serious attempt back in 2014 when it launched the Fire Phone.
For those too young to remember, the Fire Phone was the first (and to date, only) smartphone made by Amazon. Bezos triumphantly unveiled it, while doing his best Steve Jobs impression in 2014, claiming it would “revolutionise the mobile market” with its “one of a kind Dynamic Perspective” display.
Fancy branding aside, the display was a basic 4.7-inch, HD resolution, LCD panel with a custom 3D element. It aimed to let the phone create 3D effects by tracking the user’s iris and head movements using the four front cameras and adjusting displayed images accordingly.
The tech sounded cool and created plenty of buzz at the time, but with real-world use myself, and every other reviewer found the tech was a gimmick used to mask the Fire Phone’s otherwise middling hardware and basic design, which were way behind the best phones of the time. This, plus the Fire Phone’s finicky first generation FireOS software, meant the product never set the smartphone world alight and Amazon has never attempted to break into the market since.
This is a shame as the firm’s come on leaps and bounds since then with its other hardware and service ecosystem. For example, Prime Video’s offering is now one of the best on the market, featuring 4K and HDR support and a diverse portfolio of content. The Kindle store remains the best for digital books and FireOS in general feels suitably populated to meet most people’s needs, so long as they are Prime customers. This, plus their low price, is a key reason Fire tablets generally score well during our reviews and feature in our best tablets for kids guide.
As a result, I can’t help but think now is a Prime – see what I did there – time for Amazon to rethink its mobile hardware strategy and relaunch the Fire Phone brand.