Strong BYOD potential in Amazon Fire Phone

While early watchers view the Amazon Fire Phone as strictly consumer oriented, there's a strong potential that it might become a Bring Your Own Device phone for the enterprise.

Image: CNET

Like many folks, I watched the launch of the Amazon Fire Phone with great interest. Since I'm an enterprise mobility guy, I may have tuned out on some of the consumer-oriented features, then I realized that the Amazon Fire Phone might be a BYOD-ready smartphone after all.

I once called Amazon's FireOS the Android for regular people. These users, combined with those with Kindles, could position the Fire Phone as the first or even more attractive smartphone upgrade for some non-technical users leading them to later want to get their corporate email on their shiny new device.

Here are some reasons why I see the Fire Phone going BYOD.

Folks love Amazon Prime

I count myself as one of those Amazon Prime customers who can't live without it. Some of my non-technical friends and family feel the same way. Over time, I could see love for Amazon Prime sway some upgrades from AT&T users seeking a new phone.

Amazon App Store has some key mobile app bases covered

When I wrote Take the Kindle Fire HDX from Christmas tree to BYOD, I found the Amazon App Store to have client apps for industry standard Mobile Device Management (MDM) solutions from Air Watch, MaaS 360, SOTI, and Citrix and a growing collection of other Android security apps. Fire Phone is already showing up as an option for these MDM apps in the left hand results bar on the Amazon App Store.

Plugging the Amazon Fire Phone into an existing corporate BYOD program isn't going to be as big of an issue as one might imagine.

There are also the usual suspects in the productivity apps category like:

  • Evernote
  • Adobe Reader
  • Skitch
  • Dropbox
  • Box

There will also be thousands of apps from the Amazon App Store available for Blackberry devices. While this may not seem to be news for the Amazon Fire Phone or the Kindle Fire HDX, it points to a possible diametric shift in one corner of enterprise mobile app development that could bring new mobile app developers into the Fire Phone fold.

Amazon Workspaces as a possible security solution

While people are mixed on the actual effectiveness of a virtual desktop solution on a smartphone, there are vendors who make it possible. An Amazon Workspaces app for Android is available in the Amazon App Store. It even appears under Fire Phone when you sort on results.

While the Amazon Workspaces home page mentions it's a tablet optimized desktop experience. However, Amazon is in a good position to use the solution's Active Directory (AD) integration and secure hardware VPN features to spin out a Fire Phone specific security solution depending on customer demands and Amazon's further ambitions for the phone.

Final thoughts

Two Fire Phone features scream privacy issues.

I do wonder how the phone's new FireFly technology, a feature that quickly identifies products, email addresses, phone numbers, and bar code might be greeted by some of the more cautious security types especially in the United States federal government and some highly regulated commercial sectors.

There might also be concerns about how tightly the phone's camera is tied into Amazon cloud services with phone owners getting unlimited storage for full resolution photos taken with the camera on the Amazon cloud. Then there's an option for Fire Phone users to backup their settings and data to the Amazon cloud drive. It reads as the Fire Phone is more integrated with Amazon Cloud Services than the iPhone is with iCloud.

While Amazon certainly has other motivations for the Fire Phone, I like the thought of Amazon entering the smart phone arena. After all, they were able to take their Kindle eBook Reader from awkward adolescence as an eInk only reader to the recent Kindle Fire HDX tablets nearly being on parity with Android tablets in the market.

These lessons learned certainly played into the development of the Fire Phone. While there are potential privacy issues, I say look for the Fire Phone in a BYOD initiative near you. If IT blocks the phone, I expect Amazon and MDM vendors to secure the phone in future iterations.


Will Kelly is a freelance technical writer and analyst currently focusing on enterprise mobility, Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), and the consumerization of IT. He has also written about cloud computing, Big Data, virtualization, project management ap...

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