Amazon Fire Phone is About the Future of Mobile Commerce, Not Phones

It can be argued that Amazon's Fire Phone has not gotten off to a big start, in terms of sales. And it isn't hard to find detractors who think the device is too late to market. 

But it also can be argued Amazon is testing something more than "one more smartphone." To be sure, it might be an expensive, but important test. But what sort of test?

As Google's efforts center on supporting its advertising business on mobiles, so some might argue the Fire Phone is about Amazon's e-commerce business.

Some argue the issue is whether a smartphone can in significant ways replace the traditional PC-based e-commerce site.

What if, instead of going to an online store to buy something, the phone becomes the store? Taking a picture of an object, or scanning its barcode, or saying its name then pulls up an Amazon "click to order" screen. 

If so, Firefly is an effort to turn the entire physical world--anything that can be photographed, for example--into a buying opportunity for a consumer, using Amazon.

Kindle hasn't managed to become the world's top tablet device, either. But Kindle users almost certainly spend more money with Amazon that owners of other brands of tablets. 

The Fire Phone most likely is seen as a gamble on similar behavior on smartphones. If you have used a Kindle, you might agree it is less useful as a general purpose device, but excels as a gateway to content sold by Amazon. 

Likewise, the Fire Phone might not so much be viewed as a general purpose smartphone but more like a Kindle, a device optimized for Amazon e-commerce.

That might limit its appeal as a general purpose phone. But the Fire Phone might be useful for some users who actively engage in mobile commerce. 

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