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Amazon to keep experimenting with Fire phone

Barry Collins
3 Dec 2014
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Jeff Bezos says Amazon's prepared to keep risking failure with innvovative new products

Amazon boss Jeff Bezos has suggested the company is nowhere near ready to give up on its ailing Fire Phone. Amazon's first stab at a smartphone has been a dismal failure that's been widely panned by critics and already cost Amazon $170 million due to unsold units sat in the company's warehouses. 

The Fire Phone introduced a number of new ideas, such as using gestures to navigate through menus and "Dynamic Perspective", which changes what's on screen depending on the user's viewing angle, allowing you to peep around the corner in games, for example. However, most of these innovations have been poorly received. Our own review concluded that the Fire Phone was a "cynical, overpriced phone that's full of adverts and is clunky to use in almost every way", earning a score of just two stars. 

In an interview with Business Insider, a publication part-owned by Bezos, the Amazon boss tacitly admits the experiments failed. If you're going to take bold bets, they're going to be experiments," he says. "And if they're experiments you don't know ahead of time if they're going to work. Experiments are by their very nature prone to failure. But a few big successes compensate for dozens and dozens of things that didn't work." 

Bezos admits that he's made "billions of dollars of failures" over the 20-year lifetime of the company, but adds that some of those experiments eventually led to major successes, including Amazon Web Services, the Kindle and the third-party reseller scheme Marketplace.

And the Amazon boss says he's willing to keep taking those big bets. "None of those things are fun, but they don't matter," he says of the company's mistakes. "What really matters is that companies that don't continue to experiment — companies that don't embrace failure — they eventually get in a desperate position, where the only thing they can do is make a 'Hail Mary' bet at the very end."

Amazon briefly dropped the price of the handset from £399 to £249 as part of its Black Friday promotion, but the device has since returned to its original price, suggesting Amazon isn't yet ready for a Fire sale. We'd expect the company to see out the Christmas period with the existing handset, before moving to replace it early in the new year.  

 

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