Amazon won't release the next version of its Fire smartphone until 2016 after the first Fire phone, largely panned as a flop, cost Amazon $170 million in unsold inventory and other related costs. Reports indicate the lackluster reception forced the development team "back to the drawing board" for version two.
Although the first Fire phone had some cool features, such as 3-D effects and camera mode that automatically identifies real-world objects, they weren't enough to get the device to fly or even hobble off the shelves. The development team, closely monitored by CEO Jeff Bezos, is reportedly working to figure out what to put in the new phone to make it a success, even if that means missing next year's holiday buying season. When the phone first launched, it cost $199 with a two-year AT&T contract, but the company quickly slashed that price and even went further. It's now free on contract.
Bezos has tried a positive spin, almost indicating the public wasn't ready for the ahead-of-the-curve technology, saying that it's still early for the device and that Amazon plans to keep improving on it through tech-head testing for the next two years. One would wonder if that improvement process would also include using focus groups to determine phone functionality and user value. Getting a take on consumer views is essential in determining whether a product is on the right path prior to release.
Time will tell if the newest Fire makes the consumer cut or is cut yet again.