The cynics among us believe that the Amazon Fire Phone is going to be a flop. As Matt Haughey shows us in the above image, a phone attached to a product finder sounds like a mercenary mess, aimed at improving Amazon’s life and not ours. Our own Darrell Etherington believes that the price is too high at $199 (and a wild $649 for an unlocked model). Instead, he believes that it should cost $1 and the service be nearly free. After all, this is a marketing machine instead of a general purpose mobile phone. It’s another pointy tendril that the evil Bezocthulhu can embed into our wallets.
First, I love Matt’s picture. For those not familiar, that’s the CueCat, an aborted product marketing UPC reader that magazines once thought would save them from the onslaught of the web. The company sent out the UPC readers and expected users to scan URLs in printed magazines like Wired and then go to websites (this was before humans could comprehend the complexity of the Internets). It was a flop and when hackers reverse engineered them so they could scan the UPC codes on wine bottles and books, CueCat tried to sue.
But this is no CueCat. Amazon knows we can all type google.com into our browsers and find products and services in a second. What they want is for you to not type in Google and instead wave your phone at your TV to buy a download of an episode of House.
Amazon is a marauding army that is about to eat most retail. Bricks and mortar stores will become havens of last resort for those who need Red Vines at a moment’s notice and grocery stores aren’t going away, but everything else that can be shipped will be shipped by Amazon. With further economies of scale and sped up shipping times I could imagine a moment when almost all of our non-perishable sundries come from Amazon.
And this phone is part of that future. It’s not for us nerds. We want a phone that can run a terminal emulator and Dragon’s Lair. We want something we can hax0r with a janky home-brew operating system or a phone that anticipates our every need in terms of music and media. What Amazon made is a phone that lets Amazon shoppers excel at what they do best – shop on Amazon.
If you do not see the value in the phone, it’s because you’re not a regular clicker of “Buy It Now.” This strange retail power, available to mere mortals for only a few years now, has changed the way humans buy hot sauce. Why go to the store, park, walk in, buy hot sauce, drive home, drink hot sauce when you can order a case of twelve bottles of Cholula for immediate delivery. It’s like Costco without the people handing out free sausage.
I feel that the naysayers are tut-tutting at the behavior suggested by an Amazon Fire Phone. What kind of capitalist brainwashed moron would want a phone that works solely within a certain ecosystem, has very specific media sources available by default, and encourages you to buy within a certain range of products if you want everything to work together and want to ensure fast, friendly service? Ahem. Ahem.