Amazon axes hated Fire Phone price: 99 pennies but a niche? Ain't none

Forgive the double negative but seriously, no one wants this mobe

Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos

Amazon's much-hyped Fire Phone was the talk of the town when it finally appeared in June, but the buzz died down quickly, and these days it seems like the e-commerce giant can hardly give the thing away – not that it isn't going to try.

On Monday, Amazon slashed the price of its mobe to just 99 cents, provided customers sign up for a two-year contract with AT&T, the company's exclusive carrier partner.

The 99-cent model comes with 32GB of onboard storage; the 64GB model, on the other hand, will still set you back $100.

Even priced at under a buck, Amazon will still throw in 12 months of Amazon Prime service for free, as it has done since the device launched.

"With access to all of the Prime content, Mayday, 32GB of memory and free unlimited cloud storage for photos, plus the exclusive Dynamic Perspective and Firefly features, Fire is another example of the value Amazon delivers to customers," Amazon's devices VP said by way of a press release.

The move comes mere weeks before the Fire Phone is due to begin shipping to customers in Blighty via O2, but there was no word on whether Amazon or O2 is planning a similar discount program for the UK.

Not that cutting the cost of your kit will necessarily help move mobes that no one wants. The last company to try to enter the smartphone market with a bang, only to drop the price of its phones to 99 cents when sales tanked, was Facebook – and while AT&T claims it did eventually sell out of the reviled HTC First, it didn't place a second order and Facebook scrapped a planned UK launch.

Amazon has not disclosed sales figures for the Fire Phone but they're thought – let's be polite – not to have met the e-tailer's expectations. Reviews of the device have not been altogether kind, either, with one-and-two-star reviews making up 39 per cent of the total on Amazon's own site.

Among top customer complaints are poor battery life, a dislike for being tied to AT&T in the US, and that the Fire Phone runs Amazon's custom "Fire OS" Android fork, rather than plain Android, and is therefore tied into Amazon's app and media stores instead of Google's.

Amazon has not indicated whether the 99-cent price tag for the Fire Phone is a limited-time offer, or if it plans to offer a similarly deep discount for the 64GB version. ®

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