SAN FRANCISCO — Amazon announced a sweeping update to its hardware lineup on Thursday, but there was one device noticeably left out: the ill-fated Fire Phone.
The company unveiled a total of seven new devices for its Fire TV and tablet lines, but didn’t even mention the phone. Amazon recently stopped selling the Fire Phone online, and the company practically pretended it didn’t exist during a small press event leading up to today’s announcement.
To be fair, the event wasn’t meant to be about the phones. But it seemed odd since a slew of other devices that weren’t getting updates made an appearance, like the Echo and Dash Button.
“It’s the broadest product line we’ve ever had, between Echo, the readers, Fire TV and [Fire tablets],” said David Limp, Amazon senior vice president of devices.
When asked if there was any room for the Fire Phone in that lineup, Limp left the door open just a crack for a smartphone resurrection, but he still didn’t seem too keen on discussing the topic.
“I think it could fit in,” he said. “There will be another time to talk about phones.”
There’s a good reason why the Fire Phone may still be a sore topic. Amazon spent years developing its entry in the smartphone business. It debuted at $200, but within months the price was dropped to 99 cents with a wireless contract. For many, that still wasn’t enough to make it an appealing option.
That’s when things started changing in Amazon’s Silicon Valley-based R&D outfit called Lab126. There have been several reports that the team has recently been downsized, changed focus and abandoned some of its more ambitious projects in the wake of the Fire Phone debacle.
But Limp painted a much rosier picture of Amazon’s devices business this week, saying the company is narrowing its focus on hardware designed to make life at home a little easier. Mobile is also a big piece of the strategy, he added.
“We’re focusing on those kinds of things,” Limp said. “But with each of the product lines, we’re doing more than we ever have. We’re growing pretty significantly in terms of both an organization and the business.”