Amazon’s vice president of devices in Europe just admitted that the first generation of the company’s Fire Phone hasn’t performed well on the open market.
“In an honest assessment of the Fire Phone, we’ve learned a lot on this one,” Jorrit Van der Meulen told the Guardian. “We’re undeterred, but we’re not immune to the criticism either.”
In October, the online retailer announced a $170 million write-off stemming largely from the Fire Phone, which may have sold as few as 35,000 units in its first few weeks of release. The device has a mediocre two-and-a-half star rating on Amazon, despite some powerful hardware and unique features; the one-star reviews focus on the device’s poor battery life, tendency to heat up, incompatibility with some popular apps, and software bugs.
When Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos first unveiled the Fire Phone in July, the lowest-end model cost $199 with a two-year contract; it now sells for 99 cents. In a smartphone market where Apple’s iPhone and new iterations of the Samsung Galaxy manage to sell for hundreds of dollars with a contract, that’s as sure a sign as any that something is seriously wrong with Amazon’s phone strategy.
While another company might be tempted to terminate a flailing initiative, every indication is that Amazon intends to stay in the smartphone business for at least a few more years. Bezos is known for taking the long view, and he probably hopes that a future version of the Fire Phone will finally prove a hit—or at least sell a respectable number of units.
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