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Amazon Releases Smartphone Fire

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Although the number of smartphone users has exploded in recent years, not too many companies have successfully established themselves as major players in the smartphone market. In April, Amazon revealed its intention of wading into the smartphone market this Summer, and last week Amazon debuted its Fire smartphone, which boasts some impressive features and specs.

Fire’s screen size – at 5.5 inches long – resembles the larger iPhone and larger Android devices. Fire weighs more than 5.5 ounces (nearly 50% more than the iPhone 5s and slightly heavier than the Samsung S5); it comes with 2 GB of RAM and 32 or 64 GB of storage, and it has a 13-megapixel camera. Amazon also claims an impressive battery life of 22 hours of talk time (compared with 10 hours on iPhone 5S).

Fire comes with one full year of Amazon Prime, headphones, free cloud storage for all Prime content and all photos taken by the Fire phone, and Mayday – free 24/7/365 technical support from Amazon. Fire also utilizes what Amazon calls Firefly technology, a software that identifies songs, phone calls, movies, TV episodes, books, CDs, video games, and phone numbers.

Fire demonstrates the tendency of large companies to market the compatibility and synergy of their entire line of products and services. Apple has leveraged the compatibility of its products for years, as an iPhone, iPad, and Mac are truly greater than the sum of their parts. Amazon appears to have learned a thing or two from Apple, leveraging its extensive retail database and Prime membership benefits to create an impressive smartphone. Fire offers free access to all Prime Music tracks and Prime Instant Video – a veritable smorgasbord of content.

Fire also illustrates the conflict between privacy and ease-of-use. While its Firefly technology can identify millions of products, songs, and videos to provide a smoother experience for users, Fire smartphone users may not like Amazon keeping even closer tabs on their preferences, location, and purchases. Furthermore, with free cloud storage for all photos, Amazon will house all pictures snapped by Fire owners.

Another major player in the smartphone market will make for an interesting holiday season and really puts the pressure on established tech companies like Samsung and Apple to keep innovating.

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More Stories By Bob Gourley

Bob Gourley, former CTO of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), is Founder and CTO of Crucial Point LLC, a technology research and advisory firm providing fact based technology reviews in support of venture capital, private equity and emerging technology firms. He has extensive industry experience in intelligence and security and was awarded an intelligence community meritorious achievement award by AFCEA in 2008, and has also been recognized as an Infoworld Top 25 CTO and as one of the most fascinating communicators in Government IT by GovFresh.