Was Jeff Bezos responsible for the failure of Amazon's Fire phone?

In today's open source roundup: Amazon's Jeff Bezos and the failure of the Fire phone. Plus: Linux dominates TVs at CES 2015, and play classic DOS and console games in your browser via the Internet Archive

Was Jeff Bezos responsible for the failure of Amazon's Fire phone?

Amazon's Fire phone was a huge bomb for the company, and left many wondering what the heck Amazon was thinking when it released it. Now we're beginning to get an idea of just who might have been responsible for the fizzling out of the Fire phone.

Russell Brandon at The Verge reports on Bezos' involvement with the development of the Fire phone:

...the Fire Phone succumbed to misplaced ambitions and micromanagement from Bezos. Amazon's strength has been value and convenience, but Bezos wanted the Fire Phone to stake out new territory for the company, allowing it to compete with "cool" brands like Apple. As a result, he obsessively monitored the project, . "Even the very smallest decisions needed to go through him," one Amazon employee told Carr. By the end, the team had given up building a phone for consumers, and shifted building one that would satisfy Bezos's ambitions.

...the team considered hands-free interaction systems and a force-sensitive grip as ways to set the phone apart, but ultimately settled on the Fire Phone's much-criticized dynamic perspective feature, which allowed the phone to track a user's face and change perspective depending on the angle of viewing. In the end, the system drove up costs without providing any real utility to the end customer, entirely driven by Bezos.

More at The Verge

jeff bezos amazon fire phone1 Amazon

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos announces the Fire phone in August. Slow sales led to discounted prices for the device.

Austin Carr at Fast Company digs into the failure of the Fire phone:

It is a cold day in early December in Midtown Manhattan, and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has barely taken his seat on stage when his interviewer throws out that brusque query. It’s the question on the lips of every one of the 400 attendees of this tech conference, but it’s still a jarring moment. Bezos tries to hem and haw his way out of the issue, but his interrogator, Business Insider editor-in-chief Henry Blodget, won’t let up, asking again, "So, Jeff, what happened with the Fire Phone?"

Introduced with grand ambitions last summer, the Fire Phone is widely seen as a fiasco. Originally priced at $199 (with contract) and intended as an iPhone competitor, it now sells for 99 cents, and Amazon has taken a $170 million write-down largely attributable to unsold Fire Phone inventory.

More at Fast Company

Carr also has an article about how some executives have left Amazon in the wake of the Fire phone debacle:

In recent months, a string of departures and managerial changes has hit Amazon’s Lab126, the company’s Silicon Valley-based R&D group that has developed its most high-profile consumer products, including the Fire Phone, the Siri-like Echo device, and the Kindle hardware. According to multiple sources familiar with the reshuffling at Lab126, the changes were long overdue, a response to an organizational structure that some contend had grown "bloated" if not "inexplicable," as one former high-level employee describes it.

...the Fire Phone development was far from smooth, and the connotations of the product's poor performance in the market are significant. Morale on the phone teams is low (during at least one recent all-hands meeting for the digital products group, worried employees asked executives if there could be layoffs), and many employees have jumped to different projects.

More at Fast Company

CES 2015 and Linux

Linux really is everywhere these days, even in the most unlikeliest of places: televisions. Yes, Linux was the dominant operating system in the newest televisions that were shown off at CES 2015.

SJVN at ZDNet reports on Linux and TVs:

Linux fans can happily tell how Linux is the most popular end-user operating system thanks to Android, how Tux the penguin, Linux's mascot, rules supercomputers, and how even Microsoft loves Linux now because of its power in the cloud. What even they might not know, but has become crystal-clear at CES, is that Linux also now dominates Smart and 4K TV.

One TV manufacturer after another turned on its latest, smartest, biggest 4K TVs at CES: Samsung has a bendable 105-inch TV (no really, it bends); LG has a model that shows just how thin a TV can be; and relative unknown Hisense wants to convince you that projector TVs aren't dead. I could go on and on but if there's one thing to know about CES, it's that this show is all about the biggest and best new TVs.

More at ZDNet

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