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Survey Says: The Fire Phone is the eReading Device of Last Resort

fire phonePundits have been speculating for a couple months now that sales of Amazon’s smartphone have been dismal, and of there’s any truth to the consumer survey which just crossed my desk, they’re right.

A new report from Consumer Intelligence Research Partners shows that Amazon prime members, consumers who could be described as the company’s most loyal shoppers, aren’t buying the Fire Phone. 

According to the press release, CIRP polled 500 Amazon Prime customers in the third quarter and found that hardly any of them owned a Fire Phone. The survey also found that around one in four respondents owned one of Amazon’s tablets or ereaders, and that around 5% owned a Fire TV.

The results for Fire and Kindle ownership were about what I would have expected; given the free ebooks and free streaming video, it makes financial sense for a Prime member to also buy one of Amazon’s cheap devices. And it is equally obvious that that incentive doesn’t extend to Amazon’s $650 smartphone.

"Our data shows that Amazon hardware devices have mixed results," said Mike Levin, partner and co-founder of the research group in a press release Wednesday. "Effectively zero percent own an Amazon Fire Phone. In contrast, approximately one quarter of US Amazon customers have either or both of a Kindle Fire tablet and Kindle Reader, and about 5% report owning the new Amazon Fire TV set-top box. Though anecdotal accounts suggest Amazon has sold a few thousand Fire Phones, none of the 500 recent Amazon customers in this quarter’s survey reported owning one."

Amazon hasn’t shared sales figures, but in late August a guesstimate went around that pegged Fire Phone sales at 35,000 units. I didn’t believe that guess at the time, but now it seems that it was not inaccurate.

Released in early July with a retail price of $650, the Fire Phone was initially available from AT&T at a subsidized price of $199. Amazon dropped the subsidized price to under a dollar in early September, but that does not appear to have boosted sales all that much.

The reasons for the Fire Phone’s failure are both obvious and numerous: the subsidized price is an AT&T exclusive, it costs as much as the iPhone 6 or Galaxy S5 without offering that smartphone’s  extensive app ecosystem, and it has an excess of gimmicky features but no single killer feature.

I think it’s safe to say that the Fire Phone has been extinguished, don’t you?


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Juli Monroe October 15, 2014 um 8:26 pm

I really thought it would do better. I knew the AT&T exclusive was going to limit sales, but I didn’t think it would do this badly. I wonder if they will attempt a second version.

Nate Hoffelder October 16, 2014 um 4:39 pm

I seriously doubt Amazon will do another smartphone – not unless it is the budget model we all wanted.

The current Fire Phone just costs too much, and frankly no one needs more than a single smartphone. While one could conceivably buy and use several $150 tablets, you’re never going to have more than a single smartphone at a time.

And does the Fire Phone do anything useful that you can’t find elsewhere? Not that I can tell.

Syn October 16, 2014 um 1:33 am

Not surprised. I’m a tech junkie and I own probably 5 tablets. The fire phone has nothing. Why would anyone pick it over Apple, Samsung’s Note series or Google Nexus. Not to mention, there is a lot of hate for AT&T out there.

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ucfgrad93 October 16, 2014 um 10:20 am

I’d get one of the Fire tablets is the OS wasn’t so bad.

Timothy Wilhoit October 16, 2014 um 10:31 am

What’s bad about the OS? I’ve been using an HDX the last few weeks and it works quite smoothly, no complaints at all.

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