The one thing that bugs me the most about this piece (and there are a more than a few annoying things going on here) is that at no time was the Fire Phone a competitor with the iphone.
And at no time was the Kindle a competitor to anything. As a device it is now and has always been a wretched piece of shit, locked into a proprietary format. Every other ereader on the planet is better than the Kindle, but none support .azw as well, and since Amazon owns books, Amazon owns ereaders.
Even stupider, the article neglects to mention that the Kindle was also a "designed for Jeff" product. It was 3 years late to market because Bezos fired two design firms. They wanted an iPad (or, more specifically, a Kindle Touch). Bezos wanted a Blackberry he could read books on. That's why Kindles had that ridiculous, useless, bullshit QWERTY keyboard on them at a time when the whole world had gone touchscreen. I own two kindles - a Touch and a DX - and the interaction without a touchscreen is f'ing abysmal.
That's three years of sales Amazon gave up because Jeff Bezos is a monomaniacal martinet.
Fire phone is a crippled version of android.
And that's saying a lot, considering how shitty most versions of Android are. I switched from an iPhone to a Oneplus One, which means I'm running pure unadulterated Cyanogenmod. I had to deal with my in-laws bullshit Samsung S4s over the holiday and holy fuck, the bloatware. But yes - still nothing compared to FireOS, the Microsoft Bob of Android.
If you have ever used the Amazon app store you know how awkward it is.
Which is also saying a lot, compared to the wretched den of scum and villainy that is the Play store.
If they wanted to sell phones they would make it as open and usable as humanly possible and incentivise the use of Amazon services.
They don't. Amazon is a content provider and they want to sell content. What nobody at Amazon was able to understand was that they don't have enough content to lock anyone into an ecosystem. The thing that blows my mind is how much that phone must cost: I mean, Kindles are sold at a loss, or at least a razor-thin margin. The point is to get you to buy ebooks. Yet they're selling this lump of shit for $200?
I'm sure Jeff is fuming right now, it was a pretty harsh piece but maybe not as harsh as it should have been.
There's this idea that Jeff Bezos is a visionary. I think that comes from the fact that Amazon's business model is blitzkrieg - overrun your competition before they know they're under attack and rape the land to provision your forward lines. The problem with blitzkrieg is you can use it to conquer but you can't use it to hold. A blitzkrieg business model in a mature marketplace is like a shark in still water - if it doesn't move there's no water flowing over its gills and it suffocates.
Amazon's raison d'etre is disintermediation. I worked at a bookstore in the '90s. People would request a book, I'd enter it into the computer, and order it from a distributor. Most of my job was data entry. Bezos rightly saw that my job could be done by a website which would eliminate the cost of a bookstore, thereby allowing Amazon to offer lower prices. Lather, rinse, repeat for every market Amazon has succeeded in. They figure out places where the middle man is making a profit, then become the middleman by foregoing nearly all of the profit. They make it up on volume.
The thing investors don't want to hear is there will come a time when there aren't any more industries to disintermediate, and Amazon itself will be the middleman replaced by someone willing to take even less of a profit. The Kindle, the Fire Phone, the Fire Tablet, the Fire TV, the Fire Stick, his magic talking genie thing - all these are craven attempts to lock Amazon users into Amazon content through Amazon products.
And that's why they suck, and that's why everyone can tell they suck, and that's why nobody's buying them. You use Amazon because they're 11 cents cheaper than Best Buy, not because they're an aspirational brand. And they never will be.
Henry Blodgett is fond of pointing out that Apple's least profitable quarter of the past ten years was more profitable than Amazon's 22 years in business combined. I think people buy Amazon stock because they think they understand the company and figure you never go wrong betting on monopolies. I think they're wrong.