By Todd Bernhard on Wed, 06/18/2014
Competition is a good thing, and Amazon just raised the bar. Amazon's Jeff Bezos wasn't satisfied with just revolutionizing shopping for books, music, movies, or anything. Today he announced the Kindle Fire Phone, a 4.7-inch Android device that is more than just a phone. Like everything Amazon does, the Fire Phone is designed to make it easier to shop, for music, movies, TV shows, and physical products. Their integrated Firefly app recognizes over 100 million items, by image or audio. There's a dedicated button for Firefly. Amazon also has an SDK to allow third-party developers to integrate with this feature. [Full disclosure, I have developed an app called AllAccess.US that recognizes logos and launches that brand's info.]
Amazon recently acquired Comixology, a comics newsstand service, in addition to their Audible audiobook service. They also added Amazon Prime Music with over one million songs, for Amazon Prime customers. This is beyond the free video streaming for Amazon Prime users. All of this makes the Kindle Fire a great consumption device.
Amazon's Mayday service is included, offering live help within the device. You can see the operator but don't worry, they can't see you. Amazon fans on comment sites are already digging at Apple because, unlike Apple's Genius Bar, you don't need to make an appointment, leave your house, or even change out of your underwear!
The Fire Phone offers Dynamic Perspective, which is similar to the parallax effect that Apple introduced with iOS 7 but more functional. As you tilt the phone, content is adjusted accordingly. Web pages or e-books can scroll slowly or faster as you tilt, similar to what Samsung calls Smart Scroll on their phones.
The 32GB 4G LTE Amazon Fire Phone is $199 when purchased with a two-year contract, but it comes with a one year Amazon Prime membership, worth $100. If there's one fly in the ointment, it's that only AT&T will carry the Amazon Fire Phone in the U.S.
Your move, Apple!