Amazon focuses on unique services in Fire Phone reveal

Several communications experts told PRWeek that they would have advised Amazon to highlight the company's existing offerings and stay true to its brand identity.

SEATTLE: Amazon put a spotlight on its wide array of services and hardware when unveiling Fire Phone, its first mobile device, on Wednesday.

Before revealing the smartphone at an event in Seattle, CEO Jeff Bezos spoke to 300 journalists, developers, and consumers about the company’s Prime offering, which provides services such as two-day shipping, movie and music streaming, and e-book access, according to CNET. He also told the crowd that Amazon Prime has "tens of millions" of customers.

"Can we build a better phone for our most engaged customers?" Bezos asked attendees. "Can we build a better phone for Amazon Prime members? Well, I'm excited to tell you that the answer is ‘yes.’"

Fire Phone, which will be available through AT&T, includes a number of features that leverage Amazon’s existing offerings, such as the Mayday 24/7 customer service already used with its tablets that offers tech support in 15 seconds or less.

Bezos also said Amazon has "made video awesome on this phone" by including capabilities on a second screen from its Fire TV set-top box, as well as providing an "X-ray" feature that tells viewers what they’re watching.

Amazon, which owns e-reader Kindle, did not forget to include reading features on Fire Phone, such as a service called "Immersion Reading" that allows people to read and listen to text at the same time. Fire Phone can even recognize artwork and give users descriptions of the item from Wikipedia.

Other Prime services, such as Instant Video, the relatively new Prime Music feature, and the Kindle Store, are also available on Fire Phone, along with regular Amazon services such as Audible and Comixology.

In addition to its video and audio features, Fire Phone has some 3D functions, which Bezos referred to as "dynamic perspective," which allow users to scroll through apps by tilting the device.

How Amazon’s phone debut strategy measures up on the comms front
Several communications experts told PRWeek that they would have advised Amazon to highlight the company’s existing offerings and stay true to its brand identity.

Sabrina Horn, CEO of Horn, said Amazon has to remind customers what the brand stands for with this announcement so it doesn’t seem like it’s spreading itself too thin.

"From a PR perspective, the importance is the consistency of brand attributes," she explained. "There has to be a connection between A and B to support their brand equity and not water it down."

Similarly, Keith Negrin, practice leader at Exponent PR, said, "If they can tie into Prime or any of their other offerings, I think that is what potentially is going to make it a unique user experience and ultimately get people to try it."

He added that based on how 3D televisions are doing in the market, the Fire Phone’s 3D features may not be something that gives it an edge on its competitors.

In terms of the announcement itself, Negrin said Amazon missed a beat by not live-streaming the press event or offering it exclusively through its Prime streaming service.

Commentators and reviewers also criticized Amazon for the phone's cost, deemed too high for many consumers.

Elasticity partner Aaron Perlut said the smartphone space is incredibly crowded, and "if you’re not Apple or Samsung, you don’t matter," which is why Amazon has to differentiate Fire Phone with new services.

"They need to ensure that the phone isn't seen as a crass attempt to drive people into shopping more at Amazon and consuming their Prime streaming services," he said.

Perlut added that Amazon also needed to illustrate how the 3D experience is intuitive and familiar, and it should "communicate how they've been effective in bringing developers on board to populate apps that the world has come to expect on Android and iOS devices."

This story was updated on June 19 with additional information about the Fire Phone's cost.

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