Noah J Nelson on Wednesday, Jun. 18th
To no one’s surprise Amazon announced that they were entering into the phone market with a device they are calling the Fire Phone.
Well, at least they’re consistent on branding.
The phone’s marquee features include what they are calling “Dynamic Perspective,” which uses four user-facing infrared-equipped cameras to allow for tilt based navigation and depth of field effects. Even in two-dimensional demo videos of the feature the illusion of depth comes across. Dynamic Perspective, however, may prove just to be a gimmick. The real killer app is “Firefly,” an always at the ready machine vision tool that will turn the entire planet into an Amazon showroom.
Firefly has a dedicated hardware button the phone which wakes the rear camera, allowing the scan an object. Advertisments with phone numbers will yield up the option to place a phone call, which email addresses will prompt an email. So long QR codes.
That’s not why Firefly is on this device. Firefly is on the device because Amazon is now able to recognize products out in the wild and then offer up an instant purchase which can then be delivered by Amazon Prime. Roll into a book store, grocery store, you name it and snap away and then have it all delivered to your house for free for less money.
It’s a consumer paradise that leverages Amazon’s scale and willingness to undercut any competitor no matter the cost. One either admires that or hates them for it. What one cannot do these days, however, is ignore how Amazon uses its market leverage to punish its suppliers and dictate the terms of the marketplace. Not after the shenanigans with Hatchette, and Warner Home Video.
Yes, there’s Bing Vision and Google Goggles which do similar things, but those features are buried down the stack on Windows Phone and Android devices. Amazon is wisely baking the hotline to their bottom line right into the hardware. Loyal Amazon Prime customers are going to love this. Those who have long been wary of Amazon’s market power will see this another tool with which Jeff Bezos can pursue his stranglehold on commerce.