O2 breathes life into Amazon Fire: Mobe to hit Blighty in WEEKS

Yes, it's the Amazon phone you can't buy from Amazon

Photo of the Amazon Fire Phone

The Amazon Fire phone has failed to set the world alight, so now it seems that Amazon is looking to O2 for help.

There were great hopes for the 3D Fire phone when details leaked ahead of the launch but when it transpired that the 3D was only head tracking that enthusiasm evaporated and it failed to find the traction of the Kindle.

In the US the phone has attracted criticism for its high price and it seems that this is also the case in the UK, with the phone priced at £399 on the cheaper tariffs and free on tariffs of £33 a month and above for a two year contract. O2 presents this as a £15-a-month device tariff and so gives the phone a value of £360.

The tariffs make the Fire cheaper than an iPhone 5s, more expensive than an iPhone 5c and a shade more expensive than a Samsung Galaxy S5.

Despite not selling the Fire phone at a discount Amazon really needs to sell a lot of the things to get the business model of selling content to work. Developers will only produce the software if there is a big installed base, and that means getting them into the hands of consumers.

Only by having a decent base of software which supports the “Dynamic Perspective” head tracking will the Amazon Fire acquire a truly unique USP. Dynamic Perspective uses four ultra-low-power specialised cameras and four infrared LEDs built into the front face of the phone, a dedicated custom processor, real-time computer vision algorithms, and a new high-performing and power-efficient graphics rendering engine to add to the User interface. This means one-handed gestures, as well as auto-scroll, tilt, swivel and peek for quicker, easier navigation.

For example, with auto-scroll, customers can read a long web page or a book in Kindle Reader without having to touch the screen; tilting the phone while in the messaging app lets you easily attach photos from the right panel; swivel instantly reveals quick actions; peek in Maps shows layered information like Yelp ratings and reviews of restaurants, bars and museums, and so on.

Amazon is keen for you to bob your head around to control the phone. The Met Office app lets you “peek” to see the percentage chance of precipitation and the UV information associated with the forecast. Tilt left to easily view BBC Sport categories for easy story navigation. In games like Real Boxing, you can block and dodge punches by moving your head closer to or further away from the screen. Developers can customise the contents of their dynamic app and how it responds to user actions.

One thing Amazon does not have is shops on the high street, so Amazon has struck a deal with O2 to sell the Fire Phone in O2 shops. This echoes the deal Amazon has done with AT&T in the US.

O2 was very successful in luring customers over from rival networks off the back of selling the original 2G iPhone, although how profitable this was has been called into question. It is highly unlikely that Amazon will drive a deal anything like as onerous as the one Apple got O2 to sign.

Amazon makes a big play of its “Firefly technology” which does image and object recognition but plays down that the same function, called Flow, has been available for the iPhone for a long time.

Firefly combines Amazon’s catalogue of physical and digital content with multiple image, text and audio recognition to quickly identify items you point the phone at such as web and e-mail addresses, phone numbers, QR codes and barcodes text and translation. Firefly also recognises artwork, plus over 90 million items, including movies, TV episodes, songs, products and product barcodes. It’s perfect for “showrooming”.

The new phone is only available from O2 and will not, for the time being, be sold through Amazon in the UK – clicking on the link on the Amazon site takes you through to O2. O2 is taking pre-orders now and will ship phones from September 30th.


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