Amazon’s Fire Phone: Fit for the Enterprise?

Yesterday, Amazon announced it’s first-ever smart phone, the Amazon Fire Phone. It is an interesting device, but will it make any inroads into enterprises, either as a enterprise-supplied device or a BYOD device?

To put it in perspective, I’d like to first talk about  Amazon’s other line of mobile devices, the Kindle Fire series. Like the Fire Phone, these are built off of Android (a few versions back: 4.2, specifically, not the currently shipping Android 4.4). The big benefit of Kindle Fires is their price: at less than $200, the 7-inch versions seem quite appealing to an enterprise looking for a low-cost mobile solution for its workforce.

Amazon is selling the Kindle Fires basically at cost, because they figure they’ll get more money from purchases of Amazon goods and services from users. Enterprises probably wouldn’t do that, but nothing prevents an enterprise from buying up Kindle Fires and using them any way they want.

The Fire Phone is a different story, however. They are basically full-cost high-tier smartphones, at $650 each ($199 with 2-year contract). This is no cheaper than an iPhone 5S or Samsung Galaxy S5. The Fire Phone has no real distinguishing features or performance that would apply to an enterprise.

The only real discount is 1 year of Amazon Prime free, but that’s of dubious value to a large enterprise (if it even applies). So there’s no compelling reason for enterprises to go out and buy Fire Phones for employee use.

That leaves us with BYOD. Is the Fire Phone so compelling for consumers that employees will start bringing in their Fire Phones to work? There certainly are many consumers who have bought whole-hog into their Amazon Prime membership (and lifestyle, for some). The phone does have software recognition of consumer products via the camera, but similar functionality is available from Amazon’s iPhone and Android apps.

So we’re left with the conclusion that, while it might be moderately successful, the Fire Phone will not have a large impact on the enterprise, other than as one of many different Android models that their MDM or MAM software will have to deal with.

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