Amazon’s Challenge: Wooing Developers to Fire

Bezos_SeattleTimesIt’s been quite a week in the world of mobile devices. Two days ago, Amazon dropped the price of its new Amazon Fire mobile phone from $200 to 99 cents. That’s a 99.5% discount, if anyone’s doing the math. And it means the Fire phone no longer competes with the iPhone on price.

That’s smart, since Apple’s announcement yesterday of the iPhone 6 shows off the company’s larger screen sizes, one-click payment and integration with its new wearable, the Apple Watch.  So far, the Fire phone has failed to enthrall consumers, selling just 30,000 units in its first month on the market.

So what’s Amazon’s play? The important thing to remember is that Amazon is no stranger to building businesses through its APIs. It has been successful selling cloud-based computing services through Amazon Web Services (AWS) and growing an ecosystem of content around its Kindle tablet and on Amazon Prime.

Still, it’s interesting that the two companies are taking such drastically different tacks to draw users and developers to their platforms. Apple continues to set the bar for sleek design and usability – at a premium price point. Amazon, on the other hand, is focused on one thing people love to do on their phones: shop. The Amazon Fire phone features include one-click checkout, an Amazon Prime membership, a Firefly app that helps users identify and buy content like music and movies and a Dynamic Perspective capability that lets users view all sides of a digital object – handy for viewing maps, games and, of course, merchandise.

To build momentum, Amazon is working to attract developers, offering incentives in the form of Amazon’s virtual currency and providing credits for AWS. The company launched a live app testing service to help streamline the process of getting apps into the Amazon Appstore.  With a loyal developer base, Amazon will have a better shot at courting consumers, showing off the latest games and apps on its mobile platform, and even venturing into fresh experiences.

Amazon may have a real opportunity here. If it succeeds in invigorating a new segment of mobile developers, willing to specialize in its brand of Android, it may very well give Apple and Samsung some real competition. Once established, Amazon can build on the fact that it has a robust content distribution platform – streaming movies, sharing e-books and the like.

Amazon has one trait that’s going to be critical here: patience. Founder Jeff Bezos is comfortable making short-term sacrifices to achieve long-term goals. Which makes sense, given his avid support for the Long Now Foundation’s 10,000-year clock. In an interview with re/code, he indicated that the company would take that approach to its new phone. “Our job is to build the greatest device we know how to build, and then customers will choose,” Bezos told the tech site. “The other job we have is to be patient.”

If we can read into what he’s saying here, it’s this: We’re just getting started.

Photo credit: Kent Lambert, Seattle Times

Posted in Strategic Partners by Lisa Petrucci

Lisa Petrucci is Vice President of Dun & Bradstreet Global Alliances and Partnerships.

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