Amazon’s Fire Phone, as we all know by now, was a flop. Launched with a $600 price, only to be discounted to less than half in a couple of months, Amazon was left with thousands of unsold units. Although the Fire Phone was a good idea, its implementation was faulty and Android users was not happy about how Fire OS was developed, without core Google functions. Jeff Bezos last year hinted at the fact that Amazon would be launching at least two more Fire Phone flagships, but ever since then, nothing has happened in this realm. However, Amazon launched the Echo, a vastly successful personal assistant based on voice commands only. At the same time, Lab126, Amazon’s hardware team, is working on another project called project C, which we know very little about.
In a Bloomberg report, former and current members of Lab126 revealed that they had worked on four projects, A, B, C and D. A stands for Kindle, B stands for the Fire Phone and D stand for the Amazon Echo. Although some insiders might have suggested project C as the new Fire Phone, it’s now more than unlikely for that to happen. Amazon has turned away from the smartphone business and has demonstrated that is abilities to create high-quality, practical hardware lie elsewhere than in smartphones.
Bezos, Amazon CEO, has shown his passion for the Fire Phone and admitted to mistakes they had made when creating the first generation of the device. Nonetheless, he had reiterated that they would continue working on improving their smartphone business and will eventually launch another Fire Phone in 2017. However, information out of Lab126 seems to contradict that information or rather suggest that the smartphone business was either separated from the main hardware business or scraped altogether. It seems as though Amazon is focused on more futuristic endeavors that have a lot to do with augmented reality. There’s little to be know about this project C endeavor, but it’s an interesting turn of events that suggests Amazon is not really going to keep its focus on the smartphone world.
Moving away from the Fire Phone might not be something Amazon is considering right now and there are still rumors about the company having one up its sleeves for either the end of 2016 or 2017. Nonetheless, analysts are saying that if the e-commerce giant does consider releasing a Fire Phone 2, it won’t be positioned like the first device was. Instead of launching a flagship with a premium price tag, Amazon’s new Fire Phone 2 would be a mid-ranger focused on integrating with other Amazon services. Much like the Amazon Echo, Kindle and Dash button, a new Fire Phone would rely on Amazon’s e-commerce business and act as an intermediary for shopping adventures, all the while delivering an Android experience that has proven itself very important to many Amazon customers.
If a Fire Phone 2 was launched, I would expect the device to focus on making shopping via Amazon easier. Accomplishing that could be done in various ways, but the first thing that should be considered is using some kind of scanning function or augmented reality for comparison purposes. For example, when a Fire Phone 2 user finds themselves in a convenience store, they could just point their device at a product and see comparisons between the product and Amazon’s own library of stuff, either on the phone’s screen or via a projected augmented reality image in front of them.
At the same time, mobile payments are becoming increasingly popular, just like biometric security, so these would be features Amazon has to consider implementing if it wants a Fire Phone 2 that actually sells more than a thousand units. Samsung Pay, Apple Pay, Google Wallet and many others are getting more and more attention across the world and it would be convenient for Amazon to introduce its own mobile payment platform on the Fire Phone. However, it would be an even better idea to consider a wearable device in order to implement this feature.
Instead of launching another expensive Fire Phone with a user experience that feels clunky and outdated, Amazon could consider a wearable device that can do the same thing. An Amazon fitness tracker and assistant seems like the next best thing a company as large as Amazon should consider. With mobile payments via NFC and Amazon’s own service, biometric security in the form of a fingerprint sensor embedded in the display, a QR code reader in a camera conveniently placed on the side, a heart-rate monitor and Bluetooth would be enough for such a device to become the way to take consumerism one step further. The Amazon Echo is doing a good job of interlacing consumerism with useful information, and the same strategy could be implemented in a wearable device that customers can take with them anywhere.
For example, while using an Amazon wearable to track your morning run, one might find themselves realizing they need a new pair of shoes. They could easily ask the wearable via voice commands to place an order for the shoes they are wearing or show them similar footwear that they could purchase. They could connect Bluetooth headsets to the device and listen to music on Amazon Prime services, and buy new albums while running with a swipe of the finger. They could order fresh groceries to wait for them when they get back home. They could sign up for marathons in their area as they run. It would be quite a practical implementation of consumerism and laziness, and people would love it.
However, the same thing could be done with a new Fire Phone 2. With how technology is advancing and how Amazon seems to be wiggling itself to the forefront, a lot of things are made possible. Right now, we don’t know for sure what kind of augmented reality project Lab126 are working on and the fate of the Fire Phone 2 seems to be uncertain at best. Regardless of how many rumors are going around when it comes to Amazon hardware, the company is very secretive about their practices and we will only find out more when we’re getting close to a release. If Amazon were to launch a wearable or Fire Phone 2 aimed at making shopping easier, would you consider buying one?
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