That Amazon Fire Phone You Pre-Ordered is Already Outdated
I imagine the folks at places like Apple and Google have huge smirks on their faces as they watch the media frenzy Amazon Fire has caused. Why? Because companies like Apple and Google ARE technology, that’s their whole reason for existing. In contrast to them, Amazon is more like a digital supermarket with competitively priced inventory, and the added advantage of delivering its goods directly to consumers. Increasing Internet sales is its number one goal, so Amazon continually creates new apps and devices to achieve it. The difference between Amazon and a company like Google is that Amazon doesn’t have a passion for creating innovative technology for the sake of being a heavy hitter in the tech community. Due to this difference, Amazon Fire will be intriguing, until it is quickly replaced with a significantly better product.
What sets Amazon Fire apart from other smartphones is its built in and specialized Augmented Reality interface. Augmented Reality (AR) provides a connection between the real world and the digital world with overlays of video, audio, 3-D content, and location-based information. AR is what users experience with Google Glass and apps created by companies like Metaio, Layar, and Aurasma. When using the Fire phone’s firefly feature, the phone can instantly identify an object, price it, and provide an option to buy through Amazon. This is most certainly convenient; however the phone’s built in capabilities aren’t much different from the Amazon Flow app, which is already available for both Android and iOS phones. Although Amazon has used AR in its effort to increase sales, it definitely isn’t the first company to experiment with this technology, and it is actually behind in the ability to capitalize on all the known AR capabilities.
The use of this technology for marketing and ads as well as within specific industries like real estate has evolved since the early 2000s. Metaio is one of the first companies to promote the use of Augmented Reality through print campaigns and consumer usable home design and decoration AR solutions. Metaio, a German company, was founded in 2003 by CEO Thomas Alt. For Alt, the creation of AR stemmed from a project with Volkswagen. To build upon this technology, Metaio was awarded a German government grant to continue the work, which resulted in the creation of Augmented Reality. Since Metaio’s inception, it has remained at the forefront of AR innovation and truly envisions AR as the new frontier. While companies like Google have partnered with Blipper to create real-time interactive image recognition Augmented Reality for Google Glass, Metaio is far more advanced. It’s moved on to thermal touch, to make the whole world a touchscreen.
So what is my point? Augmented Reality is the main selling point that Amazon is using to entice consumers to buy the Amazon Fire phone, but the company isn’t even using the feature its greatest abilities. Amazon Fire’s AR capabilities are basic compared to the new innovations that companies like Metaio are creating. On top of that, companies like Google have already released AR products and are continuing to push the limits of those capabilities. Google is just perfecting its established AR and waiting to have a monster release of a product that’ll be too amazing for most people to ignore. Amazon is at a clear disadvantage due to the priorities established in its business model compared to the business models of actual tech companies. Because of this difference, technology companies can dedicate their time and resources to improving products while Amazon is happy to have a hot product until it quickly becomes obsolete.
Think about it, when is the last time someone bought a Kindle e-reader? I imagine Amazon Fire’s product life will parallel that: big explosion and quick fizzle out.
Teerah Goodrum (@AisleNotes), is a recent Graduate of Howard University with a Masters degree in Public Administration and Public Policy. Her time on Capitol Hill as a Science and Technology Legislative Assistant has given her insight into the tech community. In her spare time she enjoys visiting her favorite city, Seattle, and playing fantasy football.
Featured image courtesy of [Billy Brown via Flickr]