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商业 - 科技

亚马逊Fire手机失败原因大起底

JP Mangalindan 2014年10月09日

亚马逊公司两个月前隆重推出的Fire手机并没有大卖。事实上,无论是从产品设计、功能,还是从销售渠道和定价策略来看,我们都有理由把它称为一款失败之作。这家电商巨头肯定不会就此退出智能手机市场,但不知道越来越挑剔的消费者是否还愿意再给它一次机会。

    在亚马逊公司(Amazon)正式推出Fire手机两个月后,我们有理由把它称为一款让人失望的产品。

    在满分为五星的评价表上,亚马逊的客户只给这款智能手机打出了2.6颗星的黯淡评价。评测者则称其“过目即忘”、“平庸无奇”。当时为隆重推出这款手机,亚马逊在西雅图举办了盛大的新闻发布会。但仅过了一个月,该公司就将Fire手机的定价从200美元大幅削减至99美分,足以表明亚马逊默认了惨淡的销售现状。

    对这家电商巨头来说,在Fire手机上栽的这个跟头是一个重大挫折。该公司起初的如意算盘是,通过投入巨资和丰富资源打造一款智能手机,以期在这个长期被苹果(Apple)、谷歌(Google)和三星(Samsung)等对手统治的巨大市场上分一杯羹。此外,亚马逊还希望Fire帮助用户更便捷地寻找和购买商品,从而将手机购物人群引入该公司自家的购物平台上。但现在亚马逊显然阵脚大乱,它是否能从这次失败中东山再起也不得而知。

    加拿大皇家银行资本市场公司(RBC Capital Markets)总经理兼分析师马克•马哈尼认为,这种大幅降价纯属孤注一掷。他说:“亚马逊成功的机会十分渺茫。这种做法为时已晚。”

    Fire手机的缺点多多。乍一看,它似乎是款功能足够多的手机,在屏幕、摄像头和内存等方面与市面上的同类产品相差无几。与众不同之处在于,某些应用的图像具有三维显示效果,还有一款名为Firefly的应用可以让实体店的购物者在网上轻松找到超过一亿种商品并下单(当然最好是在亚马逊官网上购买)。

    可是,在这个早已被苹果和安卓手机挤得满满当当的市场里,仅仅推出一款“功能足够”的手机是远远不够的。要想脱颖而出,对Fire这样一款比首款iPhone晚了7年、比首款安卓手机晚了6年才推出的智能手机来说,必须要有突破性的硬件和软件才行。

    弗雷斯特研究公司(Forrester)分析师弗兰克•吉列特表示:“如果这款产品是很早以前推出的,那肯定能吸引很多人的眼球。但现在这个市场早已人满为患、众声喧哗了。这时候你再出现,根本没人会在意你。”

    亚马逊的一位发言人拒绝发表评论。但在Fire手机的发布会上,杰夫•贝索斯却把自家这款产品吹捧为超级智能手机。

    当时他在舞台上是这么说的:“我们能为亚马逊的尊享客户打造一款更好的手机吗?没错的,我们可以。”

    罗伯特•布伦纳曾在1989年到1997年间担任苹果公司工业设计总监,后来也为亚马逊首款电子阅读器Kindle的设计出过一份力。他对Fire手机的前景却要悲观得多。

    Two months after Amazon released the Fire phone, it’s fair to call the device a disappointment.

    Amazon’s customers gave the smartphone a lackluster rating of 2.6 out of 5 stars. Reviewers called the device “forgettable” and “mediocre.” And Amazon AMZN -0.43% all but admitted to underwhelming sales by drastically cutting the Fire’s price from $200 to 99 cents just one month after unveiling the device at a splashy press conference in Seattle.

    Amazon’s stumble with the Fire is a major setback for the online retailing giant. By sinking money and resources into a smartphone, the company had hoped to gain a significant piece of the huge smartphone market long dominated by rivals like Apple AAPL -0.64% , Google GOOG -0.13% and Samsung. Moreover, the Fire was supposed to funnel mobile shoppers to Amazon’s online store by making it easier to find and buy products. But Amazon is now left scrambling, and it’s unclear whether it can recover from its flop.

    “The odds of Amazon succeeding were always very small,” says Mark Mahaney, Managing Director and analyst for RBC Capital Markets, who argues the price cut is a veritable Hail Mary pass. “My guess is it’s too late.”

    The Fire phone’s shortcomings are plenty. On first blush, it’s an adequate device with features comparable to others in the market in terms of screen, camera and memory. What sets it apart is a three-dimensional effect for graphics on certain apps and an application called Firefly that lets shoppers in bricks and mortar stores easily identify over 100 million different products and then buy them online (preferably at Amazon).

    But in a crowded space dominated by Apple and Android devices, simply releasing something “adequate” isn’t enough. To stand out, a smartphone like the Fire, which arrived seven years after the first iPhone and six years after the first Android device, requires breaththrough hardware and software.

    “If they had shown up with this phone a long time ago, they could have gotten a lot more attention,” says Frank Gillett, a Forrester analyst. “But it’s a very noisy crowd in an established market. Once you show up at the party now, nobody pays attention.”

    An Amazon spokesperson declined to comment. But at the Fire phone’s unveiling, Jeff Bezos trumpeted the device as a superior smartphone.

    “Can we make a better phone for Amazon Prime customers?” he said onstage. “Yes. Yes, we can.”

    Robert Brunner, who served as Apple’s director of industrial design from 1989 to 1997 and later collaborated on the design of Amazon’s first Kindle e-reader, gave a much more pessimistic assessment.

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