Amazon Fire Phone Shows Steady, but Slow Growth in North America

Amazon Fire Phone Shows Steady, but Slow Growth in North America

  • 19 August 2014

Over two and a half years following the release of its Kindle Fire tablet, Amazon released its first smartphone on July 25, 2014. Named the Amazon Fire Phone, the device boasts several notable features including a 3D-like parallax display, and software entitled “Firefly”, which allows users to identify real-world entities like products or phone numbers by photographing or scanning them with the device. While the Fire Phone was listed atop Amazon’s Best Seller list for several days in early August, North American usage of the device has grown only incrementally, rather than exponentially, in the three weeks following the smartphone’s launch as an AT&T exclusive.

To quantify initial usage growth of the Amazon Fire Phone in North America, Chitika Insights analyzed tens of millions of U.S. and Canadian smartphone-based online ad impressions generated within the Chitika Ad Network from July 25 through August 14, 2014.

To provide some context, we also examined post-launch usage growth of two competitor flagship smartphone models. For a current comparison, we mapped adoption of the LG G3, which received a staggered release across multiple carriers beginning on July 11, 2014. We then also graphed the usage share growth of the Motorola Droid Ultra, which was released on August 20, 2013. Like Amazon’s Fire Phone, the Droid Ultra is a carrier-exclusive flagship device, albeit for Verizon as opposed to AT&T.

Each device’s Web traffic share was graphed for the 20 days directly following each smartphone’s respective U.S. launch dates. For clarity, data points are graphed on the basis of a 48-hour rolling average.

Usage rates of the LG G3 rose relatively sharply following its release earlier in the summer, particularly once Verizon and Sprint began offering the device on July 17 and 18, respectively. This contrasts starkly to Amazon’s Fire Phone, with that device’s usage growth remaining steady but relatively flat over the same post-launch time period.

The difference between the adoption rates of the two devices can be attributed to a number of factors, not the least of which is the expanded carrier availability of the LG G3. Additionally, while the Fire Phone’s features and brand are both new to the smartphone space, LG likely benefitted from the positive reputation it has built over the years releasing several well-received smartphone models, including last year’s G2.

A more apt comparison is likely between the similarly carrier-exclusive Motorola Droid Ultra, as seen below.

Both the Fire Phone and Droid Ultra charted relatively similar growth rates following their respective launches, with the latter experiencing a slightly steeper rise. In this context, the somewhat mild adoption of the Fire Phone may be seen as an expected consequence given the smartphone’s carrier exclusivity.

While Amazon certainly is looking to make the Fire Phone a hit, current conditions show this being more realistic as a long-term goal rather than a short term one. Jeff Bezos himself said the company plans to “be patient,” and other industry watchers see the Fire Phone as being a long-term play for Amazon – a test for the future of smartphone eCommerce. Discounting or expanding the availability of the device would likely help boost adoption, but it may be more likely that Amazon refocuses its efforts for a second generation of the Fire Phone and the accompanying software in order to make a larger mark on the industry.