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June 2014

Amazon Fire Phone: the phone your mom has been dreaming of

Fire phoneAmazon got a lot of things right with their first mobile phone. While the phone's specs may be last generation, Amazon knows that most Americans don't know or care about processor speeds. Most people will choose a phone based on two minutes of trial in an AT&T showroom or the phone's star rating on Amazon. The general public has never heard of The Verge, let alone watched an unboxing. 

The Fire Phone is built for this massive market. And it promises to make Amazon a great deal of cash and loyalty along the way.

  • Retail Ready:
    The "dynamic perspective" feature will make for an incredible retail showroom experience. This feature may not offer much long term value, but it will sing on the sales floor.

  • Prime:
    This phone is built for Prime subscribers. Not only does it include one year of free Prime membership, but it promises to deliver the best Prime experience with Firefly. There is no better way to keep someone addicted to your services than by locking their most-used screen into your ecosystem.

  • Newbies:
    I love my mother, but she cannot find her way around a Nexus 4. Mayday's instant, live support is a breakthrough smartphone feature and a huge selling point for technology laggards. The phone has a dedicated camera button for G-ds sake. And photo backup is automatic. It couldn't get any easier.

  • Brand:
    Amazon is a trusted name. Amazon isn't in the news for screwing their customers, and people already trust them with their credit card information. Whereas Google is occasionally in the news for "big brother" scare stories, people trust the Amazon brand.

I don't know that Amazon's first phone will sell out minutes or that they will sell 10 million units in the first three months. But it wasn't designed to, nor does it need to.

The Fire Phone is positioned as the best phone experience for the mainstream Prime subscriber. And it will get the Prime subscriber even more addicted to Amazon. That sounds like a win/win to me.

Hashtags, yellow ribbons and flags

Hashtag flag

You have a yellow ribbon on your tree! Then I'll stop attacking your military... said no one ever.

But that doesn't mean that you shouldn't hang a yellow ribbon, use a hashtag or wave a flag. These are all symbols of something greater than ourselves, icons of self-identification that join us together and rally others to our cause.

We don't hang ribbons to conquer the enemy, at least not directly. We hang them as a reminder to ourselves and to everyone we encounter that this cause is close to our hearts. We hang ribbons to generate momentum for our movement, to amass goodwill and ultimately garner political support for our cause.

Using a hashtag won't get the enemy to lay down their weapons. Using a hashtag won't pressure guerrilla groups or terrorists into action. But every army has a flag. And the flag of our generation is the hashtag.

Convergence: The mistake we all made

From about 2002 to 2012, there was a great deal of conversation about a future world, where we would live in the nirvana called convergence. We couldn't have gotten it any more wrong.

We all assumed convergence was about the one device, the one ecosystem, the one platform that would rule the world. 

Our phones are now the convergent devices we dreamed of, so why do we still have cable tv, set top boxes, home phone lines, wearables, watches, fitness trackers, tablets, and so much more?

Because great innovations adapt to the human experience rather than demanding that we change our behavior to enjoy the innovation. Because tech has gotten so good and so quickly, that we no longer focus on speed, but on experience. We no longer focus on the specs in the device, but the price point and the way it feels in our hand. Because it's all about the way services and technologies adapt to meet our needs.

Yes, in the future we will live in a converged world. But devices won't be at the center of this world. People will. Successful businesses don't sell technology, they sell solutions.

Focus on the game, not on the tools, and you've got your winning strategy.