Reported job cuts and shuttered hardware development follow poor reception for Amazon Fire devices
Amazon is making major layoffs in its hardware division following the initial poor response to its Fire family of mobile devices, reports have claimed.
According to The Wall Street Journal, the company has let go “dozens” of engineers who worked on the Fire phone as part of a wider cutbacks to Lab126, Amazon’s hardware development division.
The report says that this means the delay or shutdown of several Lab126 projects, including a 14-inch tablet codenamed Project Cairo, a projector codenamed Shimmer, and a “smart stylus” named Nitro that converts handwriting into digital shopping lists.
First released in July 2014, Amazon’s Fire Phone (pictured left) promised much, including powerful specifications and a 3D interaction function, as well as dedicated Amazon apps and linkage.
However it was hindered by a crowded marketplace and high price point – originally going on sale in the UK in September 2014 for £399 SIM-free – and the fact it was only available from O2. This was quickly slashed by the company in the face of low sales, falling to just 99 cents in the US, and the device is currently unavailable from Amazon’s UK site.
TechWeekEurope has contacted Amazon but had not received a response at the time of publication.
However Lab126 is not shutting down for good, as the sources say that it is still working on several projects. This includes Kabinet, a “high-end computer for the kitchen,” which can act as a home hub and features voice commands to activate a variety of functions, similar to Amazon’s recent Echo speaker.
The group is also reported to be working on a glasses-free 3D tablet, using different technology to the Fire phone’s camera-powered “Dynamic Perspective,” and a Kindle e-reader battery that could last for up to two years.
And the unit may still work towards producing future mobile devices, as the sources said that Lab126’s phone unit was apparently merged with the tablet and e-reader team following the struggles of the Fire phone.
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