Amazon announces the Fire phone – but will it ever take off?

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Amazon is the latest company to make a bid for the smartphone market after announcing the Fire, but there are question marks over its possible success.

Rather than testing the waters, Amazon has jumped right in at the deep end with a phone that will cost the bones of €500, almost as much as Apple’s iPhone 5 or Samsung’s Galaxy S5. For that price tag, you’ll be getting your hands on a 4.7-inch touchscreen device with a 2.2GHz quad-core Qualcomm processor, an Adreno 330 graphics chip, and 2GB of RAM.

Those aren’t bad specs, but the Fire’s true purpose appears to be an attempt at customer acquisition. The Amazon Fire includes a 12 month membership to Amazon’s Prime service where owners can get access to music, movies and TV shows. Of course, when that trial period runs out, they’ll certainly be hoping to retain a significant proportion of paying customers.

Then there is the Firefly feature that allows users to scan books, DVDs, phone numbers, QR codes, CDs, games, and more, and then tries to find a version that can be purchased via Amazon. Is it convenient? Quite Possibly. But it’s certainly more beneficial to Amazon than to the end user considering they’ll be presented with the single storefront. And customers will be paying a premium for this privilege.

With its hefty price tag, a tweaked version of Amazon's Android-based Fire OS 3.5 that doesn’t provide access to Google Maps or YouTube by default, and its insistence on selling Amazon products, the Fire looks like a rare and unusual misfire from Amazon.

The first Fire phones will ship on July 25th in the United States. Amazon is yet to announce a release date for this side of the world, but it’s quite possible, judging from previous Amazon releases, that it will be in around six months time.

The public response to the Amazon Fire has been less than stellar, with the handset partly to blame for falling revenues at the company – read more about it here.

In Short: Amazon recently announced the Fire phone, which will start shipping on July 25th, but there are reservations over what it is offering.

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Posts from the Harvey Norman blog team.

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