Amazon Fire smartphone: Will hardware, service plan pricing keep customers away?

Amazon Fire smartphone: Will hardware, service plan pricing keep customers away?

Summary: With a focus on Amazon Prime customers and store purchases you would think there would be some device and plan pricing consideration for the Fire, but you would be wrong.

Amazon Fire smartphone: Will hardware and service plan pricing keep away the customers?
(Image: AT&T)

SEATTLE — Amazon announced the Fire smartphone on Wednesday, but there are a couple of things that have me questioning its value to the customer.

With the focus on Amazon Prime, I expected some special consideration in regards to pricing from Amazon and AT&T and we see neither offering anything substantial compared to other smartphones available today.

The specifications are typical of current smartphones with the display having the same size and resolution as last year's Moto X. Motorola has many special features that still make the Moto X a worthy smartphone today.

The Amazon Fire smartphone has some very cool technology. Although I look forward to trying it out, the full price is $650 for the 32GB model and $750 for the 64GB model with no microSD expansion card slot. You do get one year of Amazon Prime included, $99 value, so there is a bit of cost savings there.

However, given that the Fire with Firefly is designed to have customers buying more I was hoping to see Amazon blow me away with a phone priced similar to the Moto X or Nexus 5.

Unfortunately, the Amazon Fire smartphone is also an AT&T exclusive and the only wildly successful phone we have seen with an exclusive was the very first Apple iPhone.

Times have changed in seven years though and in order to have a successful exclusive I think you have to have groundbreaking innovation. There are some amazing smartphones running iOS, Android, and Windows Phone on all carriers so I doubt anyone will change carriers to get a Fire smartphone.

AT&T is not offering any special deal on service with the Fire smartphone. I was hoping to see something like we see on the Kindle 3G models with free or very low cost data on the device. The Fire is the same as every other smartphone on AT&T.

The lack of consideration in data and service pricing is one thing that killed the Microsoft Kin.

Topics: Mobility, Amazon, Android, Smartphones

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  • "... one thing that killed the Microsoft Kin"

    The whole point of this phone is to steer the customer towards Amazon .. so the incentives are all 'Amazon-based': "The Fire is the same as every other smartphone on AT&T." no. it isn't.

    Whether their strategy is right one, I'm not at all sure, but to imply there isn't one is to miss the point made by their highly successful tablet.

    "I think you have to have groundbreaking innovation" - You have point; but that innovation does not necessarily have to be a technical one. Don't underestimate Amazon; many have, and most of them had to hide the evidence afterwards.
    • Is this a phone you would be interested in?

      FireFly was pretty cool. Google Goggles that actually works. Pretty cool.

      Beyond that? Mehhh. It seemed somewhat clumsy in the demos IMO and I bet they will do good to sell 100,000/month.
      • ATT keeps me away

        That's Amazon's worst decision.
        • Same

          If it's AT&T or Verizon, forget it and I really, really like Amazon. As someone unable to go out, it's the next best thing. And the interface actually plays in my case. Amazon really needs a better class of carrier (and I speak from lasting trauma).
          Brian J. Bartlett
  • New and groundbreaking

    Can't you see the value of this awesome device? It may not have the horsepower, or looks, or features, or apps, but this is so much better than everything else out there. This will sell like hotcakes. This is awesome. Just like the Facebook phone.
  • The facial perspective and 3D for amazon items is cool...

    ...But otherwise this is the dumbest Amazon release I've seen yet. By not providing a price or service motivation, Amazon is going to ensure that this thing goes right into the forgotten annals of history along with Kin, the Facebook Phone and Danger.
  • FAIL: cost too much & locked to AT&T?

    as a big amazon fan, have to say the phone's specs are awesome, BUT unfortunately the no-contract price is disappointingly too much and the seemingly lesser contract price of the phone being locked to AT&T two-year contract plans is way too disappointing. the only hope is _*IF*_ the full no-contract price is to a version of this phone that is unlocked. but at that point would rather buy an unlocked iPhone 5s/6 or an unlocked Galaxy S5 at full price.
  • Carrier lockdown is the killer

    Locked to AT&T? Why would anyone do that in the smart phone becoming a commodity age? Those kind of tactics worked in the past, but now if you tell people they have to use a particular carrier, they're going to tell you where to shove it.
    Buster Friendly
  • I am real Amazon Fanboy..

    but i will not buy this phone.

    1) I don't like AT&t, they are overpriced.
    2) 649$ without contract? Kidding?
    3) To "Amazon Prime" centered OS - have no use for it. Kindle & Roku do.

    I really don't understand the purpose of this device. 3D? - already failed at the living room.

    Bottom Line: there is nothing spezial. Merely proprietary crab.

  • The AT&T lockdown

    Is a deal breaker. My wife is an Amazon Prime customer/shopaholic and avid Kindle reader. She would definitely consider the Fire phone if not for AT&T.
  • You had me until AT&T

    I think this device has the "it" to make it. It's not the fastest and it won't have the advantage of the whole Play Store, but it has one huge advantage. (I carry a Nexus 4 and Nexus 7, I love my Google) That said, the media ecosystem is why we are lousy with Kindles in the family. Unfortunately, that also makes the data usage profile insane. AT&T are right SOBs when it comes to charging for data and the Kindle Phone is going to be a huge, huge data hog.

    I was ready to buy until I found out that AT&T is the one and only carrier. That and the $650 no-contract pricing just kills it.

    Good luck Mr. Bezos, you're going to need it.
  • Why bother?

    Go to Republic Wireless to get no contract, unlimited talk, text and data for $25 a month or unlimited talk and text for $10 a month. They have the MotoX for $299 and the MotoG for $149. I dropped Verizon for Republic over a year ago and now save over $100 a month. I recommend them from personal experience. Use the link above to research and get $20 off when you join:
  • Amazon

    They should have gone with T-Mobile and hopefully, between the two of them, innovation would have prevailed!
  • Nothing special, bound to fail

    If you're going to enter the phone market this late, you truly need to offer something compelling and innovative enough for consumers to take notice. Or ruffle the market T-Mobile style by making it dirt cheap. What I see in this phone is just gimmicks. Stuff like 3D wears off fast, just ask Nintendo and TV makers.

    Also the design doesn't look like a high quality product, it looks like a shrunken down Kindle Fire HD. They should have put more effort in design of the phone.

    I love Prime but it will never be my deciding factor on a phone.
  • Trapped by carrier?

    I won't consider this phone because it is offered exclusively by only one carrier. Consumers should insist on open hardware, so that we can not be leveraged into the various sheople ranches of Apple, AT&T, Verizon, etc...