With Amazon finally throwing its hat into the smartphone ring, it was bound to bring a lot of buzz. Brighthand readers had a whole lot to say about the new device and its more unique features, and not all of it positive.
The high-end price for less than cutting-edge specs was the first thing that provoked a reaction. Forum member NetBrakr said it pretty bluntly:
Ouch $650 [without a contract]…I would rather get the Samsung Galaxy S5.
Others noted that the Fire brand earned a reputation primarily as a more affordable option to the high-end devices, and that an expensive device didn’t fit with Amazon?s usual marketing strategy. Forum moderator CLeonard:
With the Fire Tablet, Amazon has been able to carve out a niche market against better tablets by targeting a specific portion of the populace (those who want a mid-range tablet/advanced eReader for entertainment). At the time it launched, the iPad had about a 90% share of the media tablet market, so there were lots of opportunities to compete – price being the main one. The smartphone market is so much more mature and better options abound. Putting out a lower grade (technically) product at a mid-range price is not going to work. The only thing the Fire [Phone] has going for it is the Amazon name, and I don’t see that leading great sales.
The most hotly contested point though, was Amazon’s “Firefly” feature, designed to (among other things) let you quickly and easily look at products in a store then buy them online for less. This is also known as “showrooming.”
This touched off a heated discussion over the economics and ethics of it, as well as Amazon’s attempt to exploit brick and mortar stores to drive online sales. Mitlov summarized the economic angle:
[S]howrooming is an unsustainable practice (for the market as a whole, not for Amazon) long-term. If it becomes something that the majority of shoppers do instead of just a few people do, it kills the brick-and-mortar stores that are laying out the costs to operate and maintain the showrooms, while Amazon (who gives nothing to the B&M retailers in return) reaps all the benefit. And then, in a few years, there will be no more B&M stores, or at least a lot fewer.
Several others also chimed in with the feeling that “showrooming” was unethical, taking advantage of the out-of-pocket spending by big chains to preview merchandise before buying elsewhere. Former editor Ed Hardy put it thus:
I have no problem with shopping online but I despise showrooming. If you have to hold something in your hand and try it out for yourself before you buy it, it’s really contemptible to then go home and buy it from some other retailer. Of course it costs a bit less online: running retail locations costs money. But it’s a service people need, and they should be willing to pay for it.
Not everyone was convinced though. Reader jigwashere drew a parallel to the same big-box stores running smaller competitors out of business.
When did Walmart, Target, Best Buy, Sears, B&N or other local retailer do me any favors? Brick and mortar retailers are not innocents needing me to pay extra to compete with online retailers. These big stores put the tiny ones out of business long ago. Their staff are abused, lack training and are underpaid…. They lobby to avoid paying local taxes… Sorry, but I have no sympathy for them.
These are just a few of the many discussions going on in the Brighthand Forums. Got a tech problem you need help with? An opinion on the latest news? Or just something you’re curious about and want an answer to? Sign up for the Brighthand forums and join the conversation today.