The Wall Street Journal reported this week that Amazon is axing its Fire Phone due to lack of sales cited in this article from Engadget. As I read the article and user comments I couldn’t help but laugh at my June 2014 blog on how cool this new Fire Phone was, and how its features would spur on a new wave of showrooming.
Boy, was I wrong … about the Fire Phone. (Not generally about showrooming behavior)…But I was way off about the phone. It appears it suffered from a combination of poor user interface, trying to do too much too fast, and being a walled garden — restricting users to mostly Amazon options for purchase and browsing. I’m reminded that one hardware device rarely revolutionizes consumer behavior. Of the thousands of new product introductions a year, we can count on one hand the few that created a new category and dramatically changed the way we do things… think iPod, microwave oven, and smartphones in general.
But, with more smartphones hitting the market, consumers are continuing to use them in the shopping process in greater numbers. Research shows they are checking availability, pricing and options. This theme hasn’t changed and will only continue.
Retailers aren’t sitting idle though. Several large stand-alone and department store retailers are using their own wifi networks to identify and serve up their own marketing. According to Chain Store Age, Target is one piloting beacon technology in 50 stores. They will test serving up promotions, in-store recommendations, customer service help and more to mobile users on an opt-in basis.
Smaller retailers and dealerships will be able to leverage the learning of beacon vendors and big box retailers in future implementations I predict (hopefully better than Fire Phone’s impact). Vendors will pre-package functionality to bring the cost down for individual retailers. Brand manufacturers selling through channels will have leverage to offer their own pre-packaged beacon functionality and apps through their marketing portal to their own channel partners.