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Amazon’s First Fire Phone Ad Puts Content Ahead of Features

Fri, 07/18/2014 - 11:11am
Ben Munson

Amazon released its first ad for the Fire Phone and the spotlight is entirely on content with no mention of the device’s features.

The spot centers on two precocious kids talking about what they have “on deck” in Amazon Prime. The Fire Phone comes with one free year of Amazon’s premium service (normally $99 a year) that offers up streaming video and music along with other perks like two-day shipping.

The company’s choice to highlight Prime over the much-hyped features of the phone like the 3D “dynamic perspective” further proves the Fire Phone is being positioned as a shopping machine. The phone’s other big feature is a dedicated Firefly button that recognizes video, music, print and objects before telling you how to buy the related item. The device is built for showrooming.

Mashable cited an Amazon representative who said another spot will debut on July 24, right before the phone’s release date. It’s possible that ad will focus more on the Fire Phone’s differentiating features.

But for now the focus is on content and Amazon is curiously using kids to show what’s available. It’s likely the ad was in production well before Amazon’s current legal woes but its timing is nevertheless unfortunate given the Federal Trade Commission’s recently announced lawsuit against Amazon.

The FTC’s complaint alleges Amazon has not done enough to settle up with parents whose kids made unauthorized in-app purchases on Amazon devices like Kindle. The FTC says Amazon kept in-app purchasing policies in place that made it easier for kids to rack up big bills buying items within mobile games.

Amazon countered by saying since the launch of in-app purchasing it has refunded purchases when customers complained they were made without authorization.

As the FTC kerfuffle unfolds, Amazon is likely focused on the imminent release of its first smartphone. The Fire Phone will be available from Amazon and AT&T exclusively. The 32-GB model will cost $200 with a two-year contract—a 64-GB model is available for $300— or zero down and $28/monthly on AT&T’s Next program.

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