It’s No Longer A Smartphone, It’s A Smartcamera

The truly disruptive feature of Amazon’s Fire Phone

A few weeks ago, I lined up to take a picture of a giant iPhone 5c advertisement in Seattle. My girlfriend’s niece, who is 4 years old, chimed in: “Why are you taking a picture of that camera?”


Many of us still think of the iPhone 5c and its smartphone brethren as phones. But that’s really only true for those of us old enough to remember actual phones. To a 4-year-old, the iPhone — name aside— isn’t a phone at all. It’s a camera. “Phone” is just another app — and an increasingly rarely used one at that.

With that in mind, I have perhaps a slightly different take on Amazon’s announcement today of their new Fire Phone. While the marquee features range in my mind from smart and interesting (Firefly Technology) to gimmick-sounding and potentially annoying (Dynamic Perspective), the truly disruptive element of the phone is something much more straightforward: free, unlimited photo storage.

Wait, don’t the other major players in the “phone” business offer this already? Amazingly, no. iPhone uploads (even with the updates coming in iOS 8) are capped at your iCloud storage limits (which you pay for above a ridiculously small amount). Android uploads can be unlimited, but only to Google+ and only at lower resolutions.

Third party services give you other ranges of options — Flickr, at 1 terabyte of free storage is essentially “unlimited” for most people. But those are not default, out-of-the-box apps on these phones.

I cannot believe that given the ever-shrinking price of storage in the cloud, one of the major players hasn’t offered free, unlimited photo uploads before. It should be table stakes given all the other monetization angles these phones provide to their parent companies. And now I have a feeling it will be thanks to Amazon’s Fire Phone.

The devil may well be in the details here, but assuming Amazon automatically backs up every photo you take with the Fire Phone, it will be an amazing feature to 100 percent of users. We’re all so accustomed to photo storage and backup being a perilous and wayward journey to the cloud. It should just work.

You take a picture on your device. There it is, backed up in the cloud forever right out of the box. No storage limits. No size restrictions. No social nonsense. A true cloud camera. A smartcamera, if you will.