Amazon FirePhone's FireFly Technology Could Hurt Booksellers by Turning Their Stores Into Showroom Floors
With Wednesday's unveiling of Amazon's new FirePhone also came the announcement of FireFly technology, which turns the device into a scanner that'll recognize an object and then — one guess — allow you to buy it on Amazon. Color everyone incredibly surprised that Amazon's new technology integrates seamless purchasing from the massive online retailer. But there's another issue at play for brick and mortar retailers, especially bookstores.
Astutely pointed out on Twitter by Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe, Ariz., FireFly technology could turn these storefronts, which are already hurting from Amazon's massive marketshare in book sales, into veritable showroom floors. Consumers can have the tactile experience of browsing physical books and getting recommendations from knowledgable sales staff, but with one fell scan, can complete the purchase for the lower price on Amazon seconds later. That takes away valuable conversions for local businesses fighting to stay open.
Amazon's disputes with Hachette already have the company in the heat of controversy, angering consumers, publishers, and authors — but in the recent fights, Amazon's assumed feuding over prices has actually benefited indie bookstores as consumers who can't get Hachette titles, like Robert Galbraith (J.K. Rowling)'s The Silkworm, are turning to alternate outlets to purchase. But regardless of whether Amazon's moves help or hurt independent booksellers, what's clear is that every move they make affects them — that's the influence Amazon wields with around 50 percent control of the book market.
The FirePhone is available on July 25, and will launch with FireFly technology.