Fire Phone: Amazon's direct line to your data, dreams, and desires

Does the Fire Phone put Amazon in your pocket -- or does it put you in Amazon's pocket? All signs point to the latter

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Shop till you drop

It took him a little while to stop trembling with avaricious anticipation and get to why he's making this move. Since I couldn't see past the shine of his head, I had no choice but to listen. As expected, Jeff thinks the Fire will make you buy more of his stuff. From movies to muffins to music, you can now order it while walking down the sidewalk. However, he failed to mention you'll be bouncing off passersby and light poles as you crash into meatspace obstacles. You know who you are. Don't expect any sympathy when you step off a curb mid-sext and get slapped by a bus.

When you eventually become some driver's hood ornament, remember to thank Jeff, as the Fire Phone will include Amazonian apps that tie users more closely to the company's "ecosystem," whatever that means. It's the usual drill: Base the OS on Android, make sure to block any competitor apps (in this case, mostly Apple and Google), and suck customers into an e-tail hell from which there is no escape.

Firefly: Convenient -- or creepy?

The most diabolical bundled Fire app is called Firefly, for which I hope Joss Whedon can sue. It recognizes movies and music so that you can one-click to Prime and snap them up. Fine -- but it also uses the phone's main cam to identify objects (read: products), then instantly link to their prices or equivalents if it's one of the two or three items Jeff doesn't either own or sell. In short, Bezos is making every brick-and-mortar retailer on the planet an Amazon showroom. That's a nice touch in a "Despicable Me" sort of way. Folks also say it's Jeff's latest attempt to get more information on what you're buying. Frankly, if that's what he's after, he should have spent the phone money more wisely.

Amazon already has access to a wealth of information on who I am, where I live, what I buy, when I buy it, who I buy it for, and generally what I'm willing to spend and how I like to pay for it. What does it do with all that information? It shows me "people also bought this" recommendations loosely based on old purchases and often just product searches where I didn't even buy anything. I snap up every John Sanford and Michael Connelly novel as soon as they come out, but I search on Sarah Palin's "Guide to World Geography and Pithy Press Interviews" one time and now all I see are thumbnails of Glenn Beck's agonizing attempts to become Dan Brown.

I'd tell Amazon to get a clue, but it has all the clues it needs. What it has to do is use some of that AWS compute muscle and learn deep analysis and accurate data correlation.

It's obvious that Jeff has a bad case of Google envy and wants to kick off his own march toward world domination, but he has a long, long way to go to match Larry and Sergey when it comes to maniacally wringing the last drops of personal data from every click and swipe. I doubt a phone will help that much. At this point, he's better off with his drone dreams.

This article, "Fire Phone: Amazon's direct line to your data, dreams, and desires," was originally published at Follow the crazy twists and turns of the tech industry with Robert X. Cringely's Notes from the Field blog, follow Cringely on Twitter, and subscribe to Cringely's Notes from the Underground newsletter.

Copyright © 2014 IDG Communications, Inc.

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