Last week’s launch of two new devices from Amazon was beyond interesting. In Amazon’s 20 year history the company has only sold two of its own products, the Kindle ereader and the Kindle Fire tablet, so to have the launch of two Amazon gadgets in one week may be a strong signal from Amazon about what its future holds.
As a polygadgetist, I started speculating about the possibility of upcoming products from Amazon. I began to think that other recent Amazon announcements may be puzzle pieces that could be assembled to form a picture of the Future of Amazon.
The Amazon Puzzle Pieces
In the past six months Amazon has been busy making announcements that fundamentally change its business and point to where ecommerce may be going. If each of these announcements is a clue to Amazon’s future we can begin to piece together the picture of what is in store for The Everything Store.
In October Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s CEO, announced that by 2015 the company would begin to deliver packages using unmanned drone aircraft. (See, Amazon Prime Air Drone Delivery: Cool, Convenient or Creepy?) Bringing a new dimension to the term “Instant Gratification” the drones will deliver products to Amazon customers within 30 minutes of an order being placed.
Increased Price of Amazon Prime (Without Any Added Benefits)
In March, for the first time in history, Amazon announced that it was raising the annual price of an Amazon Prime subscription to $99 from $79. Since Prime was first launched in 2005 the company had added benefits to the service, including Amazon Prime Instant Video and Kindle Owners Lending Library, without increasing the price. Last month Amazon did the opposite, raised the price without announcing additional benefits.
One of the new products announced last week by Amazon, Dash, makes ordering products from Amazon Fresh extremely easier for customers. This device is provided free to Fresh subscribers who pay $299/year for delivery of 500,000 different products within hours.
The Dash is long and thin with a loop at the end so you can put it on a hook. With Dash you can use your voice or the bar code scanner to add items to your shopping cart, but you cannot place your order using it.
Amazon Fire TV
Amazon Fire TV also launched last week, uses voice and apps to bring videos, music and photos to your TV.
The Kindle Fire HDX launched at the end of last year introduced the Mayday button, an instant live operator available 24/7 to assist customers using the tablet.
For more information about the Kindle Mayday button, check out Kindle Fire HDX with the Mayday Button – A Radically Different Tablet.
Wearables are Big
The next wave of tech is wearable tech, such as smartwatches that bring data to your wrist.
The Everything Store is Every Wear
Amazon’s slogans throughout the years have evolved from “The World’s Largest Bookstore” to “The Everything Store.” With the launch of the Dash, Amazon is expanding to being available almost anywhere. As long as you have a Wi-Fi connection, you can fill up your Amazon cart using Dash.
But Amazon must be thinking beyond the Dash. While the Dash currently can only be used by members of Amazon Fresh, the technology will likely be expanded to Amazon Prime members so they can easily fill their carts. Would Prime members carry the Dash around and possible lose it? What if they could wear it instead?
Imaging the Dash curved to become a watch strap. Add a screen and you have the potential for the Fire Watch, a new device from Amazon that connects directly to the online retailer so you can fill your cart and place the order from your wrist.
The Fire Watch could come complete with a camera for scanning bar codes, similar to the camera on the Galaxy Gear smartwatch, or for taking a picture to identify the product, like the smartphone app Amazon Flow.
Voice recognition could be added with a microphone so you could merely speak the name of the product you want, just as you can with the Dash.
The screen of the Fire Watch would be small so viewing hundreds of items would be cumbersome. Instead, Amazon could leverage its enormous database of customer reviews and its refined search functions so you could search for items that are the highest rated, within a certain price range, available for Prime delivery, etc.
Amazon could utilize its search tools so you could speak your order into the Fire Watch:
“I want the best rated coffee maker under $150 available through Prime.“
The Fire Watch could have One-Click ordering enabled so you could tap the screen and place your order instantly.
Amazon could add a location feature so the watch would always know where you are. It could serve as a GPS unit as well as tracking to show you items of interest in your area. For example, you could ask the watch:
“Show me Amazon Local Deals for restaurants near me.“
Add drone delivery to the mix — Imagine if a drone could find you and deliver your package wherever you were. No need to type in an address or wait at home for a delivery, a drone could hone in on your location then deliver your package in under a half hour of you placing your order.
You could get delivery to wherever you were, whenever you wanted it. Example: You’re driving to the beach and you’ve forgotten sunscreen. (Hey, if you have kids you know this could easily happen.) You say to the Fire Watch:
“Bring me the highest rated sunscreen, SPF 50 or above.“
You arrive at the ocean, spread out your towel, unfold your beach chair and a drone deposits the sunscreen into your hand before you have a chance to get a sunburn. Of course, if you get stuck in traffic, you better be driving a convertible or a car with a sunroof…
The Fire Watch could have its own app store with games, utilities, Kindle, Audible and other apps. You could see the weather, stock prices, email and other information on your watch screen. It might even tell time! You could listen to Audible audiobooks using voice commands on your watch.
The Fire Watch app store would be vital to the success of the Fire Watch. Few customers would want a wearable gadget that only served as a shopping device for Amazon products.
Amazon could utilize its Mayday operators who would appear on the Fire Watch screen to help guide users in accessing the various features of the watch.
Connecting to the Internet
The Fire Watch would be able to connect to the Internet directly, with Wi-Fi and with its own 4G cellular data plan. Similar to the Kindle ereader, the Fire Watch would offer free worldwide, unlimited data that you could use to order products. If you wanted to use Internet on the watch for other purposes, you could use Wi-Fi or pay for additional data.
Connecting to Your Phone
The watch could connect to your smartphone via Bluetooth to alert you to incoming calls and text messages.
Amazon Could Avoid Apple’s 30% Commission
Apple charges 30% commission on goods and services sold through apps on its devices. Go ahead, try to buy a Kindle book on the Kindle app on your iPhone. You can’t. Want to order an audiobook using the Audible app on your iPad? Tough luck. You have to open the Safari browser to order these items from Amazon so it can avoid paying Apple 30% of the purchase price.
By connecting directly to the Internet, the Fire Watch would make shopping at Amazon easier for the customer while enabling Amazon to avoid Apple’s 30% commission.
The price of the Fire Watch could be free. Like the Dash, the Fire Watch could be given without charge to customers who joined Amazon Prime, or perhaps a Prime Plus program. 4G cellular data connecting the customer to Amazon would also be free. Perhaps customers who spent over a certain amount could earn additional free data for other purposes.
If Amazon wanted to earn some revenue from Fire Watches, it could offer the devices free with ads and then charge $30 for those who wanted a no-ad experience. Kindle ereaders come with a $30 discount for customers who are willing to have advertisements appear on their home screens (called “special offers” by Amazon).
Perhaps wanting the watch for free is a bit optimistic. After all, the Kindle ereader still isn’t free even though it’s used almost exclusively to purchase and consume content from Amazon.
Alternatively, Amazon could offer a tiered pricing plan based upon a Prime membership, with/without ads, and annual customer spending using the watch.
Would You Want a Fire Watch?
Does the idea of a free smartwatch appeal to you? Would you enjoy the convenience of shopping with Amazon from your wrist? Vote in The Wonder of Tech poll and let us know your thoughts:
While my ideas may seem far-fetched, remember that Amazon started as an online bookseller 20 years ago. I’m reading The Everything Store that chronicles the history of Amazon and am reminded of how far the company has come during that time. Each expansion of Amazon’s product lines, features and services were met with surprise and skepticism.
As we look to the future of ecommerce we can only guess what our shopping experience will be like. But based on recent announcements from Amazon, online shopping is on the verge of significant changes. The company has come a very long way from being an online bookseller twenty years ago. We can only imagine where this company will be in five years.
What features would you like to see in a Fire Watch? Do you like the idea of combining drone delivery with a Fire Watch? Do you see a different future for Amazon? Let us know your thoughts in the Comments section below!
* Arrow Puzzle by Horia Varlan (edited)
Game of Thrones
If you’re a Game of Thrones fan and have an Xbox, you’re in luck! HBO is making the first episode of Game of Thrones available on the Xbox free from April 8-14, no HBO subscription needed.
Here’s the press release from HBO:
HBO is offering all Xbox® users the opportunity to watch the first episode of season 4 of the Emmy® and Golden Globe®-winning Game of Thrones on Xbox 360® and Xbox One® from April 8th through the 14th. The episode will remain open to both HBO and non-HBO subscribers throughout the week, giving all Xbox users a chance to watch the debut episode. Game of Thrones season 4 airs on Sundays at 9:00 p.m. ET/PT on HBO. All episodes from previous seasons of Game of Thrones are currently available on HBO GO.
The 4th season premiere episode is also available on multiple U.S. distributor portals and Free on Demand platforms during the sampling period.
Based on the popular book series “A Song of Ice and Fire” by George R.R. Martin, Games of Thrones is an epic series whose storylines of treachery and nobility, family and honor, ambition and love, and death and survival, has captured the imagination of fans globally and made it one of the most popular shows on television.