Amazon’s phone debuted to mixed reviews.
Observers concluded — rightly, I think — that the whizzy new features and specs that Amazon created won’t be impressive enough to allow Amazon to immediately grab a major chunk of the premium smartphone market. But observers also noted — again rightly, I think — that Amazon’s phone will appeal to some people and, in any event, is only the first step in what is likely to be a typically Amazonian long-term attack on the incumbent phone makers.
In a couple of years, Amazon’s phone(s?) will likely be much cheaper, especially for members of Amazon Prime. And the company will likely be nibbling at the gargantuan profits enjoyed by the two dominant premium smartphone makers, Apple and Samsung.
But it bears noting that Amazon’s phone has already solved the most annoying problem with the iPhone, at least my iPhone:
The storage problem.
I take a lot of pictures with my iPhone. And, for two reasons, I don’t like deleting those pictures. First, I like looking at them. Second, I worry that if I delete them, I’ll somehow lose them forever.
Yes, I understand that “cloud storage” solves this problem, and I use cloud storage. But I don’t like Apple’s cloud storage, because it strikes me as expensive and because I don’t want to have to pay Apple even more to be even more locked into Apple’s platform than I already am.
Apple is already the most profitable company in the world. And I already pay Apple thousands of dollars every year or two to buy its gadgets. So I feel like Apple should just throw in more storage for free and not force me to use the free storage of companies like Flickr.
But Apple isn’t throwing in storage for free.
Instead, Apple is insisting on charging me a lot of money for that storage, despite the fact that 1) Apple can totally afford to give me free storage (it’s the most profitable company in the world) and that 2) free Apple storage would lock me into the Apple ecosystem for life. In other words, this seems to be another short-term-greedy decision by Apple that puts short-term profits ahead of long-term value and lock-in.
For what it’s worth, I am an Apple shareholder, and I don’t like this choice as a shareholder, either. I would rather see Apple investing a tiny portion of its monstrous profits to make its customers happier and more locked in. I would feel much better about Apple’s long-term sustainable competitive advantage if Apple did that.
In short, as both an Apple shareholder and an Apple customer, I wish Apple would make the decision that Amazon just did, which is to sacrifice some near-term profit to engender long-term customer loyalty and lock-in.
Apple says it cares deeply about the experience for those who use its products.
So it’s surprising to me that Apple would allow my daily usage of its flagship product to consist of constant notifications like this:
Yes, I know that I can stop that from happening by deleting more of my photos. But I’ve already told you I don’t like to do that. I wouldn’t mind so much if I knew that the photos were being stored in the cloud by an awesome company that would never lose them. But I still don’t have that confidence. And Flickr doesn’t automatically story my photos right away.
Anyway, Amazon has already eliminated this issue and frustration for its customers.
If I get an Amazon phone, all my photos will be stored forever, for free, by a company that is really good at cloud services.
No, that is not enough to make me dump my iPhone and buy an Amazon phone. I’ve been waiting three years for a big-screened iPhone, and I’m not going to switch platforms now, when I’m on the verge of finally getting one.
But this does make me think even more fondly of Amazon (of which I am also a shareholder).
And it makes me wish that Apple would learn at least this one little thing from Amazon: It’s worth sacrificing some near-term profit to make your customers happier and more loyal for the long term. Especially when you’re already the most profitable company in the world.
Disclosure: Jeff Bezos is an investor in Business Insider through his personal investment company Bezos Expeditions.