The Amazon Fire Phone is a beautiful piece of hardware, and there has not been this much excitement about a smartphone since the Samsung Galaxy 4. But it comes with its own conditions, and it does not play well with Android. Instead, Amazon has developed an operating system on top of Android, and developers have ported apps to Fire OS for use on this new smartphone.
That will not sit well with Android enthusiasts. Sure, all of the latest and greatest apps are available, but niche apps, which are the primary attraction to power users of Android, iOS and Windows Phone, are not available for Fire OS. The first question consumers might have, is whether or not they can do what they can do with other phones with the Fire Phone. From a look at the apps Android has made available for the device, it appears that they can. The second question, is if Android is introducing another paradigm in mobile computing, is it worth it for me to pay hundreds of dollars on a device to embrace the bells and whistles of this phone, that are unique to the platform.
AT&T is the only cellular company providing the Amazon Fire Phone, and as of now it is not avilable on Cricket or GoPhone , the prepaid options for AT&T. That leaves the Next program, a traditional 2 year contract, or the option to purchase the phone outright. A 32GB Fire Phone costs $649, on a 2 year contract it is $199, and through the Next program, you can pay $27 a month for 2 years.
Amazon is not providing data through AT&T, which is the current strategy of Google on their Chromebook devices, providing a minimum amount of free data forever through T Mobile. But you do get a free year of Prime, which includes their Prime Music service which allows you to stream music, and you also get access to Amazon’s vast library of books, television shows and movies. Amazon is also offering unlimited cloud storage for your photos.
The genius of Amazon’s strategy is to offer a device that is good enough, a Snapdragon processor is okay, and 64 GB of storage sounds good, until you look at the fact that 2015 will be the year of 128 GB of storage, and most high end tablets/hybrids such as the Microsoft Surface already offer up to 512 GB of storage; yet one that will be out of style in about 2 years. There are other phones with better cameras and optical image stabilization, and other ways of accomplishing what Amazon is proposing. But if Amazon can wow people that are ignorant to the depths of mobile technology, as they did a few years ago with the Kindle Fire, that can carve out a dedicated following that will never pick up an Android, iOS , or Windows Phone device again. Amazon could become the next Blackberry, while pushing Blackberry off the cliff into oblivion. It is a smart move, and it is a great move. It is not as though this device is a deal breaker, and it is an excellent piece of hardware. But Amazon needs to push AT&T to make it available on prepaid, and they need to pursue other carriers, such as Verizon, if they truly want this device to become a success, and not just a sophisticated marketing tool for all of the media they are selling through the cloud.