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Amazon hopes the little touches will help Fire Phone ignite

Susie Ochs | July 11, 2014
When the Fire Phone launches July 25, the world will get to decide if its flashier features like Dynamic Perspective and Firefly are enough to make up for a smaller selection of apps and no familiar Google apps like Gmail and Google Maps.

Better yet, if you tilt the phone while looking at the actor photos in X-Ray, the images toggle between the actor's normal headshot, and their costumed character in whatever you're watching. So you can rest assured that Andy Serkis isn't actually an ape, I suppose.

This one's kind of an upsell, but still kind of cool. Like the Kindle Fire tablets, the Fire Phone has an Immersion Reading feature, which plays the audiobook while highlighting the text so you can follow along. Since not everyone makes a habit of buying their books in more than one format, Amazon is including the audiobook version when you download a free e-book sample, so you have a chance to try being read to.

Lighting a Fire

Amazon certainly put a lot of work into making the phone as consumer-friendly, since the retailer's very best customers are the ones most likely to buy it. The test will be if developers embrace the SDKs for the Dynamic Perspective and Firefly capabilities, giving users more apps to download and more reasons to play with those features.

The X-Ray features and Immersion Reading probably won't cause a sudden spike in sales of the Fire TV or e-book-and-audiobook bundles. But they're a nice nod to Amazon's superfans. If Prime subscribers make up about 10 percent of Amazon's customers, and a smaller slice of those — say 10 percent of Prime subscribers — actually buy the phone, then that customer base represents Amazon's best 1 percent — the company needs to keep those users excited and engaged.


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