It’s been a few weeks since Amazon unveiled their new smart phone, The Fire. Though speculation remains whether or not Amazon’s latest handheld device will rival the duopoly of the iPhone and Android, The Fire does offer some unique functionality that its competitors cannot dream of. Namely, the Firefly.
Firefly is a feature that makes buying on Amazon easier. It’s activated by a button (even when the phone is asleep), and can identify objects, music and video through some very high-level intelligence. The Amazon Firefly then generates a link, where users can click through and buy the item directly on Amazon. The goal here is to make buying on Amazon that much easier, thus increasing Amazon’s reach into people’s lives. While this may sound like a positive implementation for Amazon sellers, there are still unanswered questions that remain. Yes, buying will be easier and can increase traffic to Amazon – but who is getting those sales?
Amazon Firefly may be similar to Amazon’s other subscriptions, like Prime and FBA, in that there are certain parties that benefit more directly and more often. When shopping on Amazon via its webpage, the sellers that populate towards the beginning of the search list are either those who use FBA to fulfill products, power volume sellers that bring Amazon a great deal of revenue, or Amazon itself. Would the Firefly device operate in the same way? Or do all sellers stand a fair chance?
It’s likely that the links generated by Firefly will operate like Amazon’s Buy Box – an algorithm will determine which sellers appear when a consumer clicks a picture of a pair of shoes they’d like to buy. If I had to take a stab at what factors would determine the algorithm, my money would be on who’s selling through FBA. If that proves to be true, I don’t think sellers who self-fulfill should be worried yet. For Firefly to monopolize sales, Amazon Fire would first have to take off exponentially. And with AT&T as the only carrier, as well as being stacked against the monolith that is the Apple Empire, I think it’ll be some time before you see your friend pointing their phone at a sofa and clicking buy now.