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A closer look at the new technologies in Amazon's Fire smartphone

Matt Hamblen | June 20, 2014
Firefly, Dynamic Perspective could be the next steps in the evolution of online shopping.

Of course, not all Fire phone users may be ready to buy something and might just want to identify a song or movie and find out more information quickly. That kind of service will gratify Fire users and improve Amazon's reputation for being heavily focused on customer service, analysts said.

For example, iHeartRadio used the Firefly SDK, with its built-in music recognizer and music database, to help users identify songs that are playing with the streaming music service. Then, iHeartRadio built a specific Firefly app to quickly let a user create a custom station based on the song just recognized.

Llamas said he's tried Windows Phones in which a user can scan an object's barcode to connect to a Bing search for more information. But in that Windows Phone technology, "what's missing is the final step to click here and send me the product in the mail," Llamas said.

Amazon already supports something similar to Firefly in its free Amazon app for iPhone called Flow. Users can point their iPhone camera at books, DVDs, video games or barcodes and Amazon will find the items on Amazon and save them in a list. From there, they can decide where to buy them from Amazon.

Llamas also said the addition of a Mayday button for 24/7 tech support within 15 seconds on the Fire will be useful, even to savvy phone users.

"I think the Mayday button on the Fire phone should and will be used rather often, even by sophisticated users," he said. "There's a lot of things that are new on the phone and it's untested in the mass market. Some learning with has to take place."

In its online content, Amazon makes a strong pitch for how easy it will be for developers of iOS and Android apps to port them to Fire, noting that most Android apps will already work on Fire. Whether any of the new apps created or even the new Firefly and Dynamic Perspective technologies will draw new customers already dedicated to iOS or Android to buy the Fire remains to be seen.

Llamas said that if even 5% of Amazon's estimated 20 million Prime customers buy a new Fire phone, Amazon would reach a "reasonable" starting number of 1 million sales.

But Ask is unconvinced that the new features will attract that many buyers.

The new Fire goes on sale exclusively at AT&T on July 25 starting at $200 for the 32 GB version on a two-year contract, but Amazon is also advertising an unlocked version for $649.

A free, one-year membership to Amazon Prime valued at $99 will be available for a limited time, giving access to movies, TV shows, books, songs and products and free shipping on purchased products.


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