Jeff Bezos has come out fighting in defense of the Fire Phone, describing it as a “bold bet” but one worth taking.
Speaking at Business Insider’s annual Ignite conference in New York City on Tuesday, the Amazon boss said it’s fine that “people love to focus on things that aren’t working….but it’s incredibly hard to get people to take bold bets.”
He said that if you’re going to take risky steps, “they’re going to be experiments. And if they’re experiments, you don’t know ahead of time if they’re going to work.”
The boss of the e-commerce giant added that it was the success of bold bets such as Amazon Web Services, Kindle, Amazon Prime, and Amazon Marketplace that generate the revenue which pays for future experimentation.
Warming to his theme, Bezos added, “Companies that don’t continue to experiment – companies that don’t embrace failure – they eventually get in a desperate position.”
When Amazon’s smartphone launched back in July, reviews ranged from lukewarm to borderline hostile. Its latest set of financial figures, released in October, showed that consumers had decided to steer clear of the overpriced, under-specced handset in favor of rival offerings, with CFO Tom Szkutak revealing the company had $83 million worth of Fire Phone inventory at the end of September. It was also forced to take a $170 million write-down, due mainly to unsold Fire Phones.
Bezos said on Tuesday that it’s Amazon’s philosophy to take risks with products and ideas and iterate on them, adding that for the company’s first smartphone it’s still very early days and that he plans to refine it over time. However, he declined to say when a revamped version of the device might appear.