Amazon's Fire Phone is no threat to Apple

It is ludicrous to claim that Amazon's new smartphone will unseat the iPhone

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Amazon's Fire Phone is no threat to Apple In Q4 2013, Apple sold 50.22m iPhones globally
By  Tom Paye Published  June 25, 2014

You'll no doubt have noticed that Amazon, the world's biggest online retailer, released a smartphone this week. And even though it'll only be available on one US carrier when it launches next month, claims have already surfaced that it will emerge as a challenger to Apple's hold on the smartphone market. I'm here to explain why the Amazon Fire Phone doesn't matter a jot to Apple.

When it was launched, the phone took some, including myself, by surprise, in that it's actually a high-end device for high-paying customers. I thought that it would be a low-cost smartphone designed to attract as many people as possible, with the end-game being to get those people using Amazon services. After all, that was the point of the Kindle Fire tablet, which, if you believe some reports, is sold at cost.

But no, the Fire Phone is priced to compete with the iPhone 5S. This means that it had better be a pretty serious piece of kit - the iPhone 5S has been labelled by many (including myself) as the best smartphone on the market today. And even if you don't believe that, the high-end of the market is littered with great offerings from Sony, Samsung and HTC, so as a brand new entrant, you need to be offering something pretty special.

You do get some reasonably high-end features on the Fire Phone. It gives you a big, 4.7-inch screen with 720p resolution, a quad-core 2.2 GHz Snapdragon 800 processor, 2 GB of RAM and a 13 MP rear camera with an f/2.2 lens. Indeed, if you look at this handy comparison on Digital Trends, you'll see that the Fire Phone stacks up quite well against the iPhone 5S - when it comes to cold, hard specs at least.

But then we move onto the Fire Phone's user interface. Having not played with the phone myself, all I have to go on is others' reviews, which have been mixed. Whether or not the device is actually nice to use, however, it will always struggle with an apps ecosystem. Amazon might claim to have thousands of developers on board, but nothing can compete with Apple's iOS ecosystem, which only got more attractive to developers at this year's WWDC. Even Android - the world's most popular operating system - hasn't been able to offer anything like the selection of apps that you get on iOS.

Of course, you could always simply say that you only need basic apps like Facebook, e-mail and WhatsApp, and that, for you, iOS isn't as nice to use as the Fire Phone. And I'm sure that this will be the case for a number of people - particularly avid Amazon customers. But I'm not going to get bogged down in an ideological discussion over mobile operating systems, so let's stick with hard numbers, which can easily illustrate that the Fire Phone is of little significance to Apple. 

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