Amazon Fire Phone has everyone talking, but why?

Tom Dougherty, CEO – Stealing Share

19 June 2014

What’s so exciting about this?

My web browser has been full of stories about the Amazon Fire Phone. Jeff Bezos’s name was all over the news outlets and even NPR had a featured story on the new phone. What did not surprise me was that all of the stories centered on the phone’s features and price point. No one looked into the secret to a successful launch.


“I don’t believe the buying public cares a jot about the 3D features of this new smart phone.”

When Amazon launched the Kindle a century ago (or so it seems), it was not only the best tablet reader at the time, it was alone in the category and had the Amazon electronic book library’s content to back it up. Kindle was the brand that consumers bought when they rushed to own the Kindle, not Amazon.

Amazon FireI don’t believe the buying public cares a jot about the 3D features of this new smart phone. Those that review them (and many find the features lacking) are missing the boat. They are not looking at the reasons consumers buy the devices today. They buy phones that they can identify with.

So the Samsung owners identify with size and value, iPhone loyalists buy simplicity and design, Google owners buy avant guard and connectivity, Blackberry owners buy nothing, and now Fire Phone is for people who identify with Amazon? Are you kidding me?

Most of us shop at least occasionally on Amazon but do we have any high emotional intensity with the self-definition of being an online shopper? Is that the cool factor that we want to lead with when we pull out our new phone?

Amazon does not own any emotional intensity with the target audience it serves other than that of an aggregator. What is interesting is that because Amazon launched the phone, it has become worthy of examination by technology folks and not branding folks or marketing experts. The hurdles for Amazon with its phone is not to be found in its bells and whistles because I doubt very much that the ability to shop instantly from anywhere on my phone is an emotional need strong enough to drive purchase preference.

So, unless the phone drops its price point to under $100 bucks and becomes a cheap entry point of upgrade to smart phone technology this “news” will fade from importance. Does Amazon want to attract the penny pinching discount buyer as its prime audience? I don’t think so. While Amazon plays in the price comparison market, it needs buyers with discretional spending to drive its core business.

I think Jeff Bezos should be downplaying the link with Amazon. His is a house of brands and not a branded house.

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  1. Corbin

    What is so strange is that Amazon is trying to downplay the link with Amazon!

    Really? It just feels like Amazon has created a phone to get people to buy more of its stuff plain and simple. I think that most consumers will see right through that.

    • Tom Dougherty

      Jeff Bezos hinted that all they need to do is to reinforce the Amazon connection and the phone will have achieved its purpose. The idea of using it as a tool to steal market share was never the intent. The problem is that Bezos assumes that buying things on Amazon has any emotional intensity. His thinking when this question is asked “Who are you (phone buyer)”? That the answer would be “I am an Amazon shopper.” It just demonstrates the Amazon problem. They own no high emotional intensity. They need to address that.

  2. Mike Oz

    I don’t think the phone will be a total waste, but it would help if Amazon worked on its own brand. Maybe it should have named it Fire Phone. Why put Amazon in there?

    • Tom Dougherty

      That is my point Mike. The Fire Phone needs to be promoted as its own brand. I think the strong link to Amazon is its undoing.

  3. Rachel Lentz

    I’ve got to agree with you on this one. I for one would do about anything to NOT be associated with Amazon. I feel for them almost what I feel about Walmart. This is definitely one person who will not be buying the Fire Phone.

    • Tom Dougherty

      I think you are in good company. However, I don’t think most people view Amazon with the same virulence they might Wal-Mart. At least Wal-Mart elicits an emotional response. I would take dislike over stoicism. Amazon is emotionless.

  4. Mark D.

    Great points. While I think the Fire phone looks cool, its measure for success is the Fire tablet. Why? Because just as you mentioned, the tablet was all about buying stuff on Amazon, not elevating the users experience. These days, the Fire tablet doesn’t seem like much of a player, does it?

    • Tom Dougherty

      It is not hot news at the very least. Apple gets news by not having any news. Brands are etherial and need management to remain relevant. Features and benefits are just a part of that importance, not the entire story.


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