As Amazon lays off engineers, it giving up on smartphones after disappointing Fire sales?

Clara Guibourg
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Will Amazon get back in the smartphone game? (Source: Getty)

Remember Fire, Amazon’s first foray into smartphones? Amazon probably wishes it didn’t.

The internet retailer is laying off “dozens of engineers” after disappointing sales of its smartphone, released in the UK one year ago, and the company is also curbing parts of its hardware development, the Wall Street Journal has reported.

The layoffs were all in the Lab 126 hardware unit, which makes not only the Fire Phone, but also Kindles and other more successful products. Several consumer projects have now reportedly been killed after Fire’s flop, including a 14-inch tablet and a projector given the codename “Shimmer”.

Drummed up as a possible “iPhone killer”, Fire has perhaps not quite been the roaring success Amazon was hoping for.

Even before its launched in the UK, US prices were slashed online, from $199 down to just 99 cents with a two-year contract, but not even this managed to tempt consumers.

Lab 126 still has several other projects underway, despite the layoffs, which are reportedly the first in 11 years. The division employs 3,000 people, with upcoming projects including a glasses-free 3D tablet, and a mysterious kitchen computer nicknamed "Kabinet", which will act as a home hub with voice control.

What about smartphones? Will Amazon get back in the game eventually? Nothing’s impossible, in the long run: the company has reportedly “stretched out its timeline for smartphone development indefinitely”.

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