Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN) was hoping to spin a web of hype leading up to Wednesday's smartphone reveal, and it did such a good job of it that the stock actually slipped after the company peeled back the curtain.
That doesn't mean Amazon's new Fire smartphone will be a dud when it hits the market next month. There are plenty of game changers packed in the device. Between the unlimited photo storage that will allow shutterbugs to click away to their hearts' content and the popular Mayday video tech support feature that promises speedy interactions, this is a device that will raise the bar.
Firefly is another big feature with the Fire phone, identifying products and music that should ultimately be better for Amazon than it is for the owner, since it will facilitate future purchases. The only real surprise is that the one feature that everyone was talking up before the media event -- the use of four cameras as sensors to provide a state-of-the-art display that moves along with the viewer -- didn't live up to the hype. Dynamic Perspective wasn't the 3-D or holographic platform that some were dreaming about.
It also doesn't help that Amazon is sticking to one exclusive carrier. Yes, the iPhone went with the same carrier in 2007, and it turned out just fine, but being exclusive to AT&T will limit the initial appeal as consumers are locked in with their current wireless service providers.
You still have to admire Amazon for not merely phoning it in here (pardon the pun). Amazon is also including a year of Amazon Prime for the Fire phone that effectively shaves the price of the $199 device (with a two-year contract) in half. This has become a very competitive market, where only Android is gaining market share over the past year, but Amazon and its tweaked Android operating system can't be ignored.
Briefly in the news
And now let's look at some of the other stories that shaped our week.
- Tesla Motors (NASDAQ:TSLA) is no stranger to accolades, and this week Morgan Stanley called it "arguably the most important car company in the world." That's not too shabby for a company selling tens of thousands of cars a year in an industry that sells tens of millions.
- Rite Aid (NYSE:RAD) came through with its seventh consecutive quarterly profit. The drugstore chain did see its profitability decline in its latest period, but this is still a major feat for a company whose stock bottomed out at $0.20 five years ago.
- The market for luxury handbags continues to shrink for Coach (NYSE:TPR). The once prestigious brand is slumping, and now it will be closing 70 of its underperforming stores. It also sees a double-digit sales decline for the fiscal year ahead. Coach is no longer first class.