Amazon.com, the retail giant, unveiled its first smartphone, Fire Phone, at a launch event held on Wednesday, June 18, 2014 in Seattle. Its CEO Jeff Bezos hosted the special event. We produce here the full transcript of the launch event….
Jeff Bezos – Founder and CEO, Amazon.com
Thank you. Thank you for being here.
We had 60,000 people applied for an invitation to come visit to this event. We have 300 of you here. – Yes, thanks, we’ve got folks from the media, we have developers and especially exciting for me – we have Amazon customers. Give yourself a big round.
We have a lot of exciting news to share with you today. But let me set the stage a little bit. Let me give you a little context first. Let me show you a graph.
We started Amazon Prime in 2005. And very quickly, we knew we were onto something. The memberships were growing very rapidly, and we — quickly had millions of members.
But then something very extraordinary happened. This – in 2011, the slope of that graph changed a lot. You don’t see this very often in business. And when you do, you’re pretty excited. This is a good thing.
But what the heck happened? Why did that happen?
Well, we launched a few things at that time. One was Prime Instant Video and we launched it with 5000 videos, unlimited streaming. We launched the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library, thousands of titles that you could borrow for free, as frequently as once a month, no due dates. And we launched the Fire Tablet – great device to enjoy this content. And we very quickly had tens of millions of Prime members.
So what’s the real story underneath Prime?
Well, it’s patience, persistence, and attention to the smallest of details. We launched Prime Instant Video with 5000 titles; today it’s more than 40,000, including some of the most sought-after exclusives. Prime includes fast shipping, we ship boxes to customers billions of times a year and we have to do that accurately. That takes a lot of attention to detail. Kindle Owners’ Library started with thousands of titles, and today it’s more than half a million. So we keep at it.
Let me tell you – you can fill a bucket with an eye dropper if the bucket doesn’t leak. And you can fill a bucket with a firehose but if the bucket leaks, it’s still going to be empty tomorrow. Well, Prime isn’t leaky, people use the service, they use it a lot. They love the service, and when it comes time to renew, they renew. That’s how you get tens of millions of members.
For a mental model for something like Prime, one customer – we’re not trying to build a great service for tens of millions of customers, trying to build a great service for one customer. If you think about it that way, the consequences of building a great service for one customer is you can get millions. And these individual customers do love Prime.
Amazon Prime brings so much joy to the world. Prime – what would I do without you? Seriously. I’m in a monogamous relationship with Amazon Prime. And my personal favorite – the only decent life choice I’ve ever made is Amazon Prime. [Ms. Bumcys] if you’re out there somewhere, I bet that’s not true.
So what about hardware?
Well, it’s the same thing. You have to be patient. You have to work at it. And you have to obsess over the smallest of details.
We’ve been in device business now for 10 years. We launched our first Kindle seven years ago. And we worked on it for three years before that. When we launched that first-generation Kindle, there was a lot of skepticism. We got comments like this. “The Kindle is here though it may as well be kindling”. It wasn’t hard to find those comments.
I’m extremely happy to report that over the last few years, the tone of those comments has started to change. We now get comments like this – “The Kindle Paperwhite is readers’ dream. I’m wildly impressed with the simplicity and beauty of this device”. And today we have tens of millions of Kindle owners.
The Fire HDX is a lightweight, sharp screen, superfast pleasure. I used to think the iPad was the king of tablets but not anymore. It’s time to whip the crown from Apple and give it to its rightful holder – Amazon’s Kindle Fire HDX. And today we have tens of millions of tablet owners as well.
And we just launched Fire TV. Voice search is never not amazing. You almost dare it to mess up, trying the most complicated names you can think of. By the way, never not means always. After spending some time with the Fire TV, we feel obligated to apologize for our skepticism. And we’ve been working at hardware for many years and it’s incredibly encouraging to us to see the tone of these comments. And reputation is a trailing indicator of excellence. In my view, that’s how it should be.
So let me ask this question. What’s the most important thing Amazon has done in the last 20 years? Is it developing this reputation for hardware skill? Is it building this big base of engaged Prime members? I think it’s something more foundational than that. I think the most important thing that we’ve done over the last 20 years is earn trust with customers. We’ve worked hard to do that.
Now how do you earn trust? Well, I can tell you how you don’t do it. You don’t ask for it. That never works. I think there is a simple recipe for earning trust. It’s hard to execute, hard to do but it’s simple to describe.
Here’s how you earn trust. Step one: do hard things well. Step two: repeat. Can’t do this tens of times, you can’t do this hundreds of times, you have to do this thousands and thousands of times over and over and over. But if you do that and you stick with it, customers notice.
Here is the ACSI, the customer satisfaction index. They poll tens of thousands of customers every year. Amazon is number one 4 years running. 4C? 4C does the same thing but with retail, Amazon is number one 9 years running.
The YouGov brand index – Amazon is number one, and you will see that on there, number 10 is Kindle. It’s not easy to get two brands on this list. Watch out Cheerios.
And Harris poll for corporate reputation. In 2010, we were number 9 – 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014. Customers do notice. And one of the things — one of the hard things that customers have come to expect from Amazon is that we invent. Each of you has received a copy of this book, Mr. Pine’s Purple House. The hero of the story is Mr. Pine who wants to do things a little bit differently. My mother dutifully read this book to me at my request hundreds of times as a child. She is here in the audience today. Thank you, mom.
So we, at Amazon, like to do things little bit different – little bit differently as well. Over the last couple of years, last two years, maybe, probably the most frequent question that I have been asked – is Amazon going to build a phone? I get this question every time I meet with anybody from the media.
Sometimes the question gets asked – so when is the phone coming out? I know why people are asking this question – is Amazon going to build a phone? What they’re looking at is that we have developed hardware expertise. We have hundreds of millions of engaged customers and have this huge Prime ecosystem. They make sense to me that with looking at these skills and assets that, that will be a natural question.
But inside Amazon, we ask a different question. We ask – how would it be different? How would the phone be different? Can we build a better phone for our most engaged customers? Can we build a better phone for Amazon Prime members?
Well, I am excited to tell you that the answer is yes. Start with some of the basics.
Fire Phone – Features
This phone is gorgeous. I can’t wait for you to get your own hands on it and look at it. Pretty huge amount of effort into the industrial design. It’s elegant and refined, uses premium materials, rubberized frame, Gorilla Glass on both sides. We have CNC aluminum milled buttons. They are three times as precise as the plastic buttons that others often use.
Steel connectors, you won’t get that USB wobble that everybody hates. And we obsessed over the chamfer of the USB connectors with the [core of] the slide in easily.
Fire Phone – size
It’s 4.7 inches, absolutely gorgeous display. We’ve built models everywhere from 4.3 inches to 5.5 inches. We picked 4.7 as the perfect size for one-handed use. We obsessed over outdoor viewing – 590 nits. This is the industry-leading brightness. We put it in a circular polarizer so that even with your sunglasses on can use this phone in both portrait and landscape mode.
Under the Hood
What about under the hood? We do a lot of things with our smartphones these days. And you need a lot of power under the hood. Quad Core 2.2 GHz processor, BT coprocessor for graphics and 2 GB of RAM make sure it’s fast and fluid.
Our phones are also our primary cameras. And we put a huge amount of attention and energy into making this the best camera. 13 megapixels, a superfast 2.0 lens and optical image stabilization. That’s not what you want. But that’s what we get too often.
This is what you want. Crisp beautiful photo. Optical image stabilization, tiny little electric motors on the lens that adjust the lens 100 times a second. You’re seeing it here in super slow motion, and they counteract that natural hand tremor that all humans have. Here are some of the results. That’s unretouched straight out of the phone, with that beautiful photo. This one – same thing, gorgeous.
Let me show you a comparison. Here we’ve got Samsung on the left, iPhone on the right, and the Fire in the middle. Let’s zoom in on this. You can look at the sky, look at the sharp edges on the skyscrapers and compare it to the Samsung and iPhone. What you’re seeing here is the impact of the faster lens soaks up more light and optical image stabilization. The optical image stabilization – because it’s counteracting your hand tremors lets the shutter still open four times longer, so you can gather more light.
When you’re in bright light, great conditions, you’re going to appreciate the 13 megapixels. And when you’re in tough, challenging lighting conditions, you’re going to really love the optical image stabilization.
It’s another thing to make photography great on this phone. We gave you a button you can press, that launches the camera wherever you happen to be. You can be in the middle of an email, you can be on your lock screen, press that button, bam, the camera is up. Press it again and you’ve just taken a picture.
And we’re including unlimited storage for your photos on the Amazon Cloud. One thing about phones that often doesn’t get enough attention is the sound. We think sound is important on a phone. We added dual stereo speakers, Dolby Digital plus virtual surround. And sometimes you’re not using your speakers, you’re using your earbuds. Has anybody ever seen this? That’s what happens as the famous brilliant philosopher Bill Murray once said, “How to tie the strongest knot ever: put headphones in pocket, wait one minute”.
Well, we decided to try to fix that little bit. We got flat cables on our earbuds with magnets that class them together and – premium earbuds, we’re including them in the box. They’re not an accessory you have to purchase.
Services matter too
All right. Services matter too. It’s not just the hardware. Let’s take a look at that. Video matters. Every passing year and month, we can see this, people are using their phones more and more to watch video. It’s becoming a very important use case. And we have made video awesome on this phone. And we’re bringing some of our much loved features like Second Screen and X-Ray to the Fire Phone.
So with Second Screen, you’re watching video on your phone, can fling it to your Fire TV, your Xbox, your PlayStation, any Miracast-enabled device. X-Ray, inseam data from IMDb, so you can see every character in every scene and who the actor is, and what the tribute is and so on and so on. And we’re bringing over features to Fire Phone from Fire TV like ASAP. This is something that people absolutely love on Fire TV and it works the same way on the phone. We predict what you’re likely to want to stream and then – because we pre-buffer that, we pre-cast that for you, streaming starts instantly. People love it. And it’s an open ecosystem. You can – ESPN, HBO GO, Netflix, Hulu Plus, anything you want to watch.