A couple of big US tech firms made some big announcements today.
Amazon will get the lion’s share of attention for its new Amazon Fire Phone. Essentially it’s a mini version of their Kindle Fire, using their forked version of Android, but with a phone. The big excitement is that it’s 3D. Well all phones are, but this one has four front facing cameras to do all sorts of clever things with.
From a technical perspective it’s mildly interesting, although there are some fundamental problems.
– The kind of person most likely to be interested in this kind of future-thinking in phones, is likely to be the sort of person who understands the benefits of adopting a regular Android or iOS device. There are many more apps, and much more support.
– The Firefly feature – which uses Amazon’s cloud resources to identify objects that you scan with the phone – seems to be a way to turn the remaining shops on our high streets into showrooms. Jeff Bezos demoed the phone scanning a physical book. You can then buy the book on Amazon, either the physical product or a Kindle version. You can just imagine that those remaining shops on the high street, who already probably have enough customers checking their phones to see if the book they want is cheaper online, will be thrilled that this job is being made easier. And the same goes for other kinds of businesses.
– I’m very surprised that the phone is only being made available, at least initially, with a single mobile supplier. At this point, only a US release has been announced, and Amazon can be quite slow rolling our products internationally (no sign yet of the Amazon Fire TV). But if this is to be a mass market product, then making it available on a single network on contract only, really isn’t the way to go. It’s old school thinking. Other Amazon devices have really attempted to fight on price. But as Rory Cellan Jones points out in his piece, the price that Amazon is selling their phone at is the same as the high end iPhone 5S or Samsung Galaxy 5. One school of thought is that it needs retailers to demo the 3D nature of the device as it’s just not easy to see on the web, hence the deal with AT&T. But surely it should be sold SIM free and unlocked? Sure – do deals with networks too. By going with a single network, you’re automatically excluding a large number of potential customers. For lots of reasons, many don’t want to change networks.
Elsewhere, Adobe was announcing a major update of its Creative Cloud applications. That’s essentially everything that Adobe makes.
– A major part of the revamp is mobile. Indeed the Adobe presenters were careful to say the generic “mobile devices” rather than any specific manufacturer’s devices. But that’s a bit strange because every mobile app they demonstrated was iOS only. And while I completely understand that the design community is heavily Apple focused, I’m not sure that’s still true in the mobile space. Indeed their key desktop applications are ALL made available for both Windows and Mac. So why Android is missing is beyond me. Yes – at some point – there’ll be an Android version of Lightroom. But there’s been no mention, so far, of any other apps for Android.
Still, I will point out that if you’re into photography, their $9.99 a month (+VAT) is really good value for Photoshop and Lightroom. They’ve now made that a fulltime offering.