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Posted by Julie Ask on July 23, 2014
I had the opportunity and privilege to get an early look at the new Amazon Fire phone. It delights in many ways, but I’ll focus on the shopping experience enabled through Firefly.
For those who may not remember, Amazon put a dedicated physical button on the left hand side of the phone that launches directly into image recognition. If the image is recognized, then a web-based mCommerce experience launches. The user can then buy the product or it on a wish list, among other things. From there, the experience is more ‘traditional Amazon.’ The ‘new’ is the image, email, URL, etc. recognition.
Why is selling mobile phones important for Amazon? mCommerce in the US alone will add up to nearly $100M by the end of 2014. The new battleground for retailers is in the mobile moment – the point in time and space when a consumer pulls out her phone to get something she needs immediately and in context. Amazon’s FireFly service facilitates two core types of mobile sales moments:
I tried several recognition scenarios with mixed success using the Firefly service. Generally, known items were recognized in about 4 seconds. Firefly seemed to give up after about 10 seconds if it couldn’t identify the product. Sometimes (especially with books) it would return a “this product is not known,” and then find it a few seconds later. It was fun to watch the analysis in action as the blue dots shifted their focus from the middle to the edges of the screen.
Here’s what I wanted the service to do for me:
Was shopping using Firefly faster than using the app on my iPhone? Not necessarily. But I can genuinely imagine the potential. It’s always hard to be first in this market. What Amazon has created with Firefly is impressive. Amazon clearly understands the potential of winning in customers’ mobile moments. Like all connected products, I expect to see continual updates and improvements. It’s good now, but I can see it being great in a few months’ or a years’ time.
What’s the next milestone for Amazon? We’ll have to wait and see if other retailers use the technology in their apps. But the number of developers creating apps for the Fire platform continues to grow, and I’m excited to see what they do next.