The Fire (Phone) has gone out…no longer available

The Fire (Phone) has gone out…no longer available

Well, I guess I have a collector’s item now.

Don’t get me wrong…I like collector’s items, and have a number of rarities.

However, it makes me a tad uncomfortable that one of the things on which I rely the most, my daily use SmartPhone, the

Amazon Fire Phone (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

now says on the Amazon product page

“Currently unavailable.
We don’t know when or if this item will be back in stock.”

I mean, I’m sure it was a gas to own a Tucker 48…but I’m guessing it’s a little hard to find spare parts and an authorized repair shop.😉

I do like my Fire Phone…not as much as I liked my Galaxy, but it has some cool features.

I’m sure Amazon will continue to support it…but no question that they’ll stop developing for it. We already know they laid off a bunch of techies at Lab126 that worked on it. With something like a SmartPhone, you develop new features partially to attract new customers, not just to service the ones you have. Since there won’t be any new customers, there is less of an incentive to innovate.

It is possible this Fire Phone will come back into stock…but it seems a bit unlikely.

It’s also possible (and Jeff Bezos has indicated it will likely happen) that Amazon develops some other phone…but probably not right away.

I can make a gadget last a long time, but I don’t want to be doing a lot of first aid to what is basically my lifeline to the world.

For example, I drove a car…until it literally fell apart.🙂 The whole muffler exhaust pipe thing (I’m not a car person, as you can tell) dropped. I took a fan belt, tied it up, and drove like that for maybe another two weeks. This was many, many years ago…I wouldn’t do that now.

I’ll keep counting on the phone for now…but it’s not too early to sort of think about other phones.

I wouldn’t get an iPhone…Apple soured me with what they did with e-books, and I have an iPhone for work. I’ve never liked the iPhone as much as I liked my Galaxy.

Part of that is just familiarity, I know.

If I had to get a phone right now, I’d be looking at a Galaxy again…perhaps the Edge.

What went wrong with the Fire Phone for Amazon, and how does this impact EBRs (E-Book Readers)?

Price.

That was about it.

If the Fire Phone had been introduced as a cheap phone, I think it would have done well.

People are always impressed when they see the 3-D effect.

The gestural control, while that sounds gimmicky, is helpful. It makes  lot more things one-handed. It takes a little bit to get used to flicking the phone this way and that for different functions, but it works.

Then, of course, there is Mayday…Amazon’s on-screen tech support. That’s a remarkable achievement.

This should be a pretty clear lesson to Amazon: don’t try to be the luxury brand.

That should place downwards price pressure on other gadgets…and we’ve been hearing a rumor about a $50 tablet from Amazon, in time for the holidays.

It’s been just about a year since the last big hardware announcement from Amazon (September 17th last year), and the year before that was the end of the September.

We probably won’t hear about a phone in this year’s big announcement…although I could see the Echo getting some sort of phone capability (either tying into your phone through Bluetooth, but controlled by the Echo, or maybe VOIP…Voice Over Internet Protocol).

There is also the possibility, which hasn’t been talked about much lately, that Amazon introduce a wearable (a watch?) with phone calling. I’ve never liked wearing watches (I carried an old fashioned pocket watch for years). Wristwatches would tend to go wacky on me. I couldn’t figure that out for some time, although there were people who thought it had to do with my “magnetic personality”.😉 Someone finally made a good suggestion to me: since I’m ambidextrous, I probably tended to bump it into things more…I couldn’t put it on a non-dominant hand.

Yeah, I’d rather not get a SmartWatch.

No real reason why a tablet couldn’t make phone calls, I suppose…my Kindle Fire could do it with an app, but it wasn’t that convenient.

Anyway, it’s the end of a (short-lived and largely non-impactful) era. Unless it’s just out of stock…but I think that’s unlikely.

Keep your fingers crossed that my phone hangs in there! If Amazon did bring out another, fairly inexpensive phone before I had to replace this one, I would honestly consider it…owning this one has not been a bad experience…Samsung was just a better experience.😉

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

 

21 Responses to “The Fire (Phone) has gone out…no longer available”

  1. tuxgirl Says:

    I suggest that if you do start looking at phones, you might want to check out the nexus line from Google. I got a nexus 5 about 1.5 years ago, and after seeing it, my hubby got one within 2-3 months. Aside from a little googling of the fire phone (because I am pretty invested in Amazon’s ecosystem), I have decided that I am almost guaranteed to eventually replace this phone with another google-branded phone. I love love love my nexus.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, tuxgirl!

      Good to know! There are a lot of things I like about Google, but I didn’t look at the phone very carefully last time.

  2. Harold Delk Says:

    As the owner of a Fire Phone the biggest negative to me is the closed app system that does not play nicely with Google Play. Useful apps such as the one for my bank are only available on GP which will not recognize the Fire Phone as a device. I’ve tried other sources as you kindly suggested and found some of what I need, but the general unavailability (without jumping through “mod-hoops”) may have helped kill the product. I think if they had just built an unlocked open device without so many “curations” it might have sold well. In any event, I love the phone and know that it will make a great mini-pad for music, Audible, and for streaming to the Echo and other connected devices … but if I want to check my bank balance or snap a picture of a check I want to deposit I’ll have to look elsewhere. Luckily my old Motorola does all that via wi-fi.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Harold!

      I meant to update my post this morning with that issue, but ran out of time.🙂

      I think the Google Play situation is at least half Google’s fault. Having an unmarked device would not make Google Play recognize it as I understand it.

      Certainly, that is one of the things that would make a Samsung phone more appealing.

    • Tom Semple Says:

      The weakness of the Amazon Appstore applies to all Fire devices, of course. My hope was that if Fire Phone had been a success, that app developers (banking apps etc) would feel a need to make their apps available there. Smartphones are sort of the ‘tent pole’ of an app ecosystem, since they go everywhere and get used a lot more than tablets. Without a smartphone in the ecosystem, there is far less incentive to do this.

      Amazon should also stop embargoing apps that are already in the appstore: third party reading apps and browsers. Welcome Kobo, Nook, Bluefire, Blio, Axis360, Mantano, Aldiko apps. Make sure Dropbox is there (for some reason Fire tablets can get it, but Fire Phone users have to side load it). Nag the banks to get their apps, GoPro, Glassdoor, Meetup and other such ‘2nd tier apps’ as well. Google isn’t going to play, but don’t block them from making their apps available should they choose to do so.

      I do not really understand why Amazon would not continue to have a Fire Phone: this should be their holy grail, a go everywhere with the customer device that is optimized to buy any sort of stuff from Amazon, and the analytics that go along with that device ownership. They could re-brand a decent phone like Moto X, put Fire OS on there, and continue. Put a Firefly/Photo button on the lock screen. It doesn’t need dynamic perspective.

      Given how little I paid for mine, there is not much buyer’s remorse should I decide to get a different phone. But I’m not in any hurry.

      • Bufo Calvin Says:

        Thanks for writing, Tom!

        Yes, it’s a good point that the lack of Google Play access applies to the Fire tablets also (and, although less surprisingly, the Fire TV and Fire TV Stick). However, my understanding is that the Fire tablets also haven’t captured much of the market…and Play access might be part of that as well.

        There are directly competitive apps in the Amazon Appstore (Netflix and Hulu, for example). Have you seen something that says Amazon has an embargo, or is it just a hypothesis?

        Jeff Bezos has strongly indicated that a phone of some kind is part of Amazon’s future (as you suggest, it might be in partnership).

        I paid full price for my Fire Phone…I don’t regret it, but I do wish the prognosis was better.🙂

      • Tom Semple Says:

        Yes, embargo in practice, though not as stated policy. For example Maxthon browser (and some others) are listed in Amazon Appstore, but are only available for non-Fire devices. No reason is given apart from ‘not compatible’, which is manifestly not true. Mantano Reader is the same way. When Amazon Appstore launched, Kobo app was there as well, and remained for some time after Fire launched, but it was never downloadable to Fire. There aren’t a lot of embargoed apps, but the fact that there are any is annoying.

        I don’t know what Amazon’s rationale is for doing this, but such embargoes have no obvious benefits to end users, and if I think about it too much, it makes me disinclined to buy another Fire tablet in the future, especially if the only selling point is low price. The world already has dozens if not hundreds of decent, low cost Android devices, with direct access to a much better app store, and access to Google’s services in general. And then there’s Apple, which continues the best mobile app store by far.

        Windows Mobile platform is in a similar situation in terms of the quality of the appstore (and small market share), though the underlying causes for this are much different. Microsoft is big enough and has enough partners to persist even though it seems unlikely to thrive and grow, but Amazon? I wonder if they can continue to justify development of a mobile platform that has no appreciable market share.

        They seem to have had much better success with Fire TV and Echo, and no doubt are looking for ‘smart home’ opportunities, as the growth potential is higher.

      • Bufo Calvin Says:

        Thanks for writing, Tom!

        I think I got Maxthon originally from the Amazon Appstore for my first Fire tablet. In fact, I think that’s how I discovered what is now my favorite browser, and the one I’m using right now. That’s despite the fact that it crashes fairly often.🙂

        There may be a lot of cheap Android tablets, but it makes sense to me for Amazon to have one. There are people for whom Amazon is most of their consumer experience. They’d rather buy something from Amazon that works and not look around for the ultimate.

        The Fire TV does seem to be a big hit. Back in June, there were a lot of reports the Fire TV being the top streaming box in the USA, like this one:

        http://betanews.com/2015/06/05/amazon-fire-tv-rises-to-the-top-of-us-set-top-box-market/

        It’s too soon to tell on the Echo, in terms of market success, of course. My guess is that we’ll know there is real interest following this holiday season, and that by the end of 2016, we’ll see if it looks like it was a good investment on Amazon’s part. I think it will have been…that it’s a market definer, like the Kindle, but we’ll see.

      • Tom Semple Says:

        Echo is by definition the ‘market leader’, as it remains the only device of its kind, almost a year since its introduction. It is mentioned almost every week on ‘iOT Podcast’ (http://iotpodcast.com/). Last week they talked about Amazon’s ‘Kabinet’ project, which seems to be another ‘connected home’ thing.

        Rumors exist that Fire TV is going to include Alexa capabilities, and I’m guessing Fire tablets will get that as well. I would not complain if they improved the Fire Phone’s ‘digital assistant’ as well (uses the same voice as Echo, is but not as talented). I think of Echo/Alexa as having been a spin-off of Fire Phone development, since it needed a Siri/Google Now clone.

      • Bufo Calvin Says:

        Thanks for writing, Tom!

        Well, it depends on how you define “its kind”.🙂 Ubi owners may argue that their devices are in the same space…voice controlled ambient computing at home:

        The Ubi Voice of The Internet, Black (Ubi-02)

        It costs a lot more than the Echo, and I think we can reasonably say it does a lot less, but I would say it is part of the same market as the Echo.

        However, it has 19 reviews and a 3.3 star (out of five) rating. The Echo is closing in on 25,000 reviews and a 4.5 rating.

        Some others might be the Voicepod, Musio, Jibo, and the Ivee (http://helloivee.com/), the last of which isn’t actually in the market yet, I believe.

        The “Kabinet”, I think, is specifically for the kitchen.

        April Hamilton has a very interesting piece that appears to have evidence of Alexa coming to the Fire TV:

        http://lovemyecho.com/2015/09/16/alexa-is-coming-to-fire-tv-sources-say-later-this-month/

        AVS (Alexa Voice Service) is going to open up to lots of products; Amazon’s will get it as well, certainly.

  3. Lady Galaxy Says:

    Today is the day that my version of Kindle for Mac was supposed to stop working. So far, I can still read books I’ve already downloaded and download books I’ve already purchased. Maybe it will turn into a pumpkin at midnight Amazon time. I never did get an answer from them about what the consequences of not being able to update would be.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Lady!

      Oh, I should have told you that I did get a response…but it didn’t do much good, so I hadn’t passed it along to you.

      They said it was due to “critical bug fixes”…and that the best they can do is recommend using the Cloud Reader if you can’t update.

      • Lady Galaxy Says:

        Thanks for trying. That’s basically what they said in the initial notification. The cloud reader doesn’t work with my OS either. I really do need to update my system. I wish Apple would put their system software on a DVD like they did in the past. Downloads of system software take forever, are easily corrupted in the download process, and it’s hard to recover if something does go wrong. It might be easier to just buy a new computer with the most up to date software, which will become outdated before I get it paid off;) And no, I won’t do Windows! I think different.

      • Bufo Calvin Says:

        Thanks for writing, Lady!

        Buying a new computer is sometimes the way to go. We’re not that far away from Black Friday/Cyber Monday sales.

        Maybe you could rent/lease one? Sounds like it might be better in your situation.

      • Lady Galaxy Says:

        Unfortunately, new computer will have to include new printer, and new scanner! I hate planned obsolescence. The coal bin in my basement is slowly filling with perfectly usable so long as you don’t want to go online computers, printers and scanners. Fortunately, the local scrap yard is building a facility to recycle old electronics but it won’t be ready for at least 6 months.

        And Kindle for Mac is still working.

      • Bufo Calvin Says:

        Thanks for writing, Lady!

        Well, I have to say…having a coal bin sounds old-fashioned to me.🙂 That’s probably just because I’m in California (in the Bay Area) and we don’t have them.

        I have computers in the garage, but what I should really do is pull the hard drives out of them and recycle them (we have a lot of e-waste recycling in my area).

      • Lady Galaxy Says:

        I’ve lived in the same house for 61 years old. I grew up with coal heat, so I know all about clinkers and coke trees and stokers. The furnace was cast iron lined with bricks. Once it got heated up, the cast iron and fire bricks would hold the heat for a long time. My dad had an oil conversion unit put into the old coal furnace in 1970 shortly before he died. Even the oil conversion unit was gravity only, no forced air, but it kept the house toasty warm in winter. I finally had central air with forced air heat installed in 2004, and winters have been much colder ever since. The forced air is only warm when the furnace is firing. I wish it had been possible to keep the old furnace shell and still have central air, but it wasn’t. The coal bin still has coal residue on the walls and floors, so it’s not a good place to store anything that I might want to ever use again. I suppose a power washer might be able to hose them down, but I live in an area where we have septic tanks, so the coal dust and water would go down the drain and into the septic system, and I fear coal dust would clog the leach bed. So it’s the perfect purgatory for outdated technology. TMI?

      • Lady Galaxy Says:

        I don’t know if I’m the only Project Runway fan here, but I thought it interesting that this week’s challenge involved turning outdated technology into fashion!

      • Bufo Calvin Says:

        Thanks for writing, Lady!

        We usually watch Project Runway, although we aren’t caught up on this season. I’ll look for that episode later, thanks!

        I’ve been quite fascinated with Big Brother this season (speaking of reality competition shows). Vanessa, who is a poker play, has had a remarkable ability to guide people’s behavior. I can often do that as a trainer. I remember years ago when my manager observed a class I taught, and was giving me a debrief afterwards. The manager was going along and said something like, “…then you did that hypnosis thing you do…” and I said, “What?”

        Then I thought about it, and I can understand that assessment…I do guide people to certain conclusions, although only for their benefit, of course.🙂

  4. John Aga Says:

    I am with you with regards to Apple products. Apple makes some very good products but I cannot get past their business ethics. Apple conspired with the largest publishers to fix ebook prices because they were losing to Amazon in the marketplace. Apple also led a conspiracy in Silicon Valley with other tech companies to suppress the wages of employees. As a result I have an Android phone and Amazon Fire tablet.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, John!

      Well, to be clear, the conspiracy (according to the Department of Justice), came before Apple was in competition with Amazon. The agreement had to do with the then upcoming launch of the iBooks store, in conjunction with the also then upcoming launch of the iPad.

      However, my interpretation was that they were willing to let the publishers control prices because they didn’t really care if people read books or not. They wanted the iBooks store so they could be in competition with Amazon on that…but I don’t think they were losing at that point because the game hadn’t started.🙂

      Oh, they were in competition on music at that point, I think, but Apple was winning that one.

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