Let's kick things off here with a little thought exercise that will have huge implications for the smartphone market in the year ahead.
It's the holiday season, and you're a smartphone shopper walking through your local AT&T store. You survey the various options for what will be your new tech toy and whittle your potential choice down to two of 2014's most-hyped smartphones -- Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone 6 and Amazon.com's (NASDAQ:AMZN) Fire Phone. Which one would you chose?
Here are 3 reasons why I believe the Apple iPhone 6 will absolutely crush the Amazon Fire Phone as this scenario plays out repeatedly in the months ahead.
Screen Size: Advantage Apple
At the moment, the 4.7 in display found in the Fire Phone trumps that of Apple's iPhone 5s, but that's unlikely to last. One of the most pervasive rumors surrounding the Apple iPhone 6 is the two-tiered screen size upgrade that's expected by virtually everyone at this point.
More importantly, Apple's iPhone 6 isn't only expected to meet Amazon's Fire Phone in terms of screen size. It's also expected to up the ante by also introducing a 5.5 inch screen sized model that will cater to key emerging markets like China that simply can't get enough of the so-called "phablet" trend. This should help Apple more effectively cater to demand across a broader screen size spectrum, which will likely tilt the unit sales equation in Apple's favor versus the Amazon Fire Phone.
Processor: Advantage Apple
Plenty of analysts were left scratching their heads when Amazon revealed its Fire Phone was powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 CPU. To be clear, the Snapdragon 800 is by no means a chip to look down on. However, since the Snapdragon 800 was released in 2013, it seemed odd that Amazon didn't more aggressively push the envelope on the processor front with the Fire Phone.
This dynamic should be further exacerbated by Apple's expected release of a new A8 chip for the iPhone 6. Apple surprised the tech community by making the current A7 powering the iPhone 5s (not the 5c). Rumors as to what exactly Apple plans for the A8 probably aren't worth reading too much into at this point. However, the overarching theme that Apple will likely push the design envelope once again with the A8 in the iPhone 6 should likely widen the performance gap in between the iPhone 6 and Amazon's Fire Phone.
Software: Advantage Apple
This section's more open to interpretation, but I'm at least of the mind-set that Apple's software lead over Amazon's Fire Phone is, and will likely remain, significant.
Amazon did notch some genuine innovative wins with the Fire Phone with the introduction of its Dynamic Perspective feature, although it's still not clear how significant a value-add Dynamic Perspective will be to the overall smartphone user experience. Also, Amazon's Mayday 24/7 troubleshooting feature appears to push the edge as far as customer service goes.
However, the major theme we saw with Apple's iOS 8 updates from its Worldwide Developers Conference keynote is deeper integration with other aspects of Apple's software ecosystem, a move that's likely to make key features such as pushing things like changes to work documents across all linked devices in virtually real-time. That will clearly help the appeal of Apple's overall ecosystem. Add in the possible integration to next-gen software paradigms like its Health app, and Apple appears ready to remain firmly ahead of Amazon's Fire Phone in this key third category with the iPhone 6.
So while we won't know for sure whether Apple has truly bested Amazon's Fire Phone with the iPhone 6, I'm certainly of the mind that Apple will remain well ahead of Amazon when it debuts the iPhone 6 later this year.