Amazon has consistently proven that it is one of the leading innovators in the internet economy (having announced last year that it would start delivering packages via drone soon.) Now, Amazon has set its sights on another vertical – the smartphone market, with the recent release of the Fire Phone. The phone offers a number of groundbreaking features, including a 3D screen and head sensors. Most notable, however, is the Firefly feature.

Firefly leverages unprecedented object detection technology, allowing individuals to point their cameras at nearly 100 million unique objects that Amazon can recognize. These objects can range from barcodes to book covers. Customers will have the ability to instantly pull up background and pricing information about the object, and purchase via Amazon. Firefly also allows for song-recognition (a la Shazam) that lets users activate Firefly while music is playing, which the system then identifies and can download. The same is true for hundreds of thousands of DVDs and TV shows, which can be downloaded on the fly.

Amazon was able to create this platform because of major advancements in mobile hardware, cloud software and big data analytics. With Firefly, Amazon literally lets people analyze the world around them and purchase what they want – improving on their already simplified one-click buying approach. The Fire Phone will give Amazon a more complete view of their consumers’ behavior and an unprecedented amount of market analytics. By knowing the things that people take pictures of, listen to and purchase, Amazon will have an understanding of individual consumer preference that rivals Google.

Firefly will likely ignite a debate about the role of big data analysis in ecommerce and the privacy considerations that are associated. As Firefly uploads and analyzes the user’s preferences, will consumers have an opportunity to “opt out” of having their information tracked?

Nevertheless, Firefly will likely be examined by industry analysts and Amazon’s competitors as a platform that can connect consumers with the products they want. We look forward to following the development of this trend as Amazon’s Firefly matures and as other companies learn to leverage advancements like these to their own benefit.


What do you think about Amazon’s recent announcement? Do you have a unique perspective on mobile hardware, cloud computing or ecommerce? Leave a comment below, or tweet us at @RHStrategic with the hashtag #RHetoricBlog. 

RH Strategic is the PR firm for a hyper-connected world, delivering integrated media, social & digital strategies for technology, healthcare, and public sector markets.