Yesterday I sent the following email to Amazon.com about its Fire phone:
I was just sitting down to have some coffee and play a couple of hands of solitaire before I went back to work, and I realized that I was holding the only telephone I’ve ever loved, my Fire phone, the phone you guys no longer sell. I gather that it didn’t sell well. I got mine on special, $199 which included a year of Prime, and knowing what I know now about this phone, I would cheerfully pay you $199 for another, even without the Prime. $500? No, but then I don’t believe any phone is worth that kind of money, with or without a contract. As you might guess, I’m not an iPhone groupie.
As I see it, you made two mistakes right out of the gate. The price as mentioned above, and the not-quite-Android operating system. Whose idea was that? Because it was a stupid idea and it held this phone back. You should have gone with Android, given people the chance to use their favorite apps instead of having to try to find something else from the Amazon app store. I learned how to side-load Google apps and apart from the difficulty of updating them, they work just fine. But the average person isn’t going to do that. The average person hears me talking about side-loading and says “Buh?”
People are addicted to their apps. Anyone who doesn’t realize that is a fool. They want what they want, and you wouldn’t give it to them. And THEN you asked them to pay premium prices for a phone that wouldn’t let them have what they wanted.
All the bells and whistles, the screen that tilts and all the rest? I’ve turned all that off, and I love the good, clean interface that does exactly what I want it to. The battery life is good, I can leave it on for days… weeks, before it starts to glitch and need a reboot. It is one fan-fucking-tastic phone. And you’re probably going to kill it. Well done. Hit that iceberg!
I’ve heard it said that Amazon is good at making the same mistakes over and over again. Prove ’em wrong. If you aren’t going to kill the Fire phone, get smart about it. Go with Android, not faux Android or Android lite, or whatever this OS is. Let people buy their apps from the Google store if they want. You can sell good Android apps too, y’know. Make sure it has a high quality camera, and a lot of power. Drop all the tilty stuff, it’s boring. And price it right. Absolute max: $300, and better at $200.
I will keep this phone until it dies in my hands, that’s how much I love it. I am never without it. But the thought of never being able to replace it when it does breaks my heart. I’ve been an Amazon customer since you only sold books. I’m a long-time Vine reviewer, you asked me to help judge your fiction contest and gave me a kindle for doing it (I still have it, btw, even though I now have a few others including a Paperwhite)
You have some of the best customer service I’ve ever dealt with. I’m in your corner, and I think all that gives me the right to tell you upfront that every once in a while you do some bone-headed stuff.
I know what you’re thinking and all I can say is give me a break, I was feeling philosophical after having to take my cat to the vet and listen to him screaming as they emptied his anal glands. I was annoyed that I had finally found a smartphone that worked for me, that did the things I wanted it to do without getting the shivers, overheating, or otherwise acting like a dick, and because the company that produced it couldn’t see the forest for the trees, I would probably never have another. Because if they do make a Mark 2 and make all the same damn mistakes with it that they made with the first one, I won’t be buying it.
Now I didn’t really expect a response; it wasn’t that sort of email. But I got one this morning that basically said, we understand your concerns but we have some nice apps. And there was a link to the Amazon app store.
I suppose you could make a case for an over-worked, under-paid overseas customer service worker looking at my crazy, disaffected, snarky email and thinking, “Apps. She wants apps.” and sending a standard cut-and-paste reply. He had to say something, right? His job depends on him saying something to me. So I’d like to apologize to Raghavendra.K for making his life a little harder yesterday. Not my intention, dude, but I wanted to make a point. I wanted to fucking complain about why I again find myself in the Betamax camp. Kitty anal glands completely aside, this is something that’s been bugging me for a while now, and you told me to go check out your apps.
No. Just no. Sometimes you need to pass the buck. Send my email to your supervisor with a note that says “I don’t know what to tell this crazy woman, do you?” Kick it upstairs. Eventually someone will have a real answer. What I wanted was to get a note back that said:
Yeah, we made a lot of mistakes with this one. We tried to do too much too soon, and we didn’t actually ask anyone that they wanted. Our bad. But we’ve learned our lesson, I swear. If we ever do another phone — and we might — we’re going to concentrate on doing the important things right. We’re going to go with a flexible, established OS so that our customers have a significant advantage when buying apps, we’re going to give you a lot of processing power, a great camera, and we’re going to make sure that you have access to the best possible tech support and customer service we can give. We’re going to offer it unlocked and at a reasonable price. And yeah, no more of the tilty stuff. I don’t know what we were thinking with that one.
What do you think the odds of that happening are? Yeah, me too.
More about it: