Amazon: Yes, Fire Phone flopped, but we’ll keep making smartphones

Amazon won't give up on Fire Phone just yet.

Amazon won’t give up on Fire Phone just yet.

The Fire Phone hasn’t been anywhere near as successful as Amazon hoped it would be. Sales have been so bad, in fact, that the device has ended up costing the retail giant around $170 million. But Amazon knows where it has gone wrong, and it has every intention of making more smartphones.

Amazon has been listening to the feedback Fire Phone has received, according to Jorrit Van der Meulen, Amazon’s VP of devices for Europe, who has been speaking to The Guardian.  “We’ve learned a lot on this one,” he said. “We’re undeterred, but we’re not immune to the criticism either.”

Van der Meulen compared the Fire Phone to the original Kindle e-reader, which was also greeted by poor reviews when it made its debut back in 2007. But the company stuck at it then and made the changes it needed to make, turning the Kindle family into a hugely successful business.

It plans to do the same with Fire Phone, despite that $170 million writeoff and $83 million worth of unsold stock.

“So might the second step be slightly different than our first step? Sure. I suspect that it will be,” Van der Meulen added.

Amazon certainly sees Fire Phone as a long-term business, but it will have to make a number of changes to ensure its successor isn’t another flop. The company has already admitted that it initially priced its device too high, but that was not and is not its only issue.

Perhaps the biggest downside to the Fire Phone is its software. It runs Amazon’s own Android port, which has its own user interface, its own apps, and most importantly, its own Appstore. The device cannot access Google Play and the many Google apps within it, and its app catalog is substantially smaller.

For smartphone users who download apps — and that’s the vast majority — this is a big problem, and one that Amazon is unlikely to ever address. After it, it’s not going to give users access to Google Play, right?

The company could make the Fire Phone too cheap to resist, though. Consumers might be willing to overlook the lack of Google Play for a super affordable, super capable smartphone. Amazon may have to sell the device at a loss, but it could certainly make back any money lost by inviting more customers to use its many services.