Amazon runs out of stock of its Fire phone, likely for good

Failed smartphone is no longer available for purchase direct from Amazon

Amazon finally appears to be putting its Fire phone to bed for good. The product page for the smartphone on Amazon's website shows both the 32GB and 64GB models out of stock, with no estimate about when they'll be available again.

According to Amazon spokeswoman Michelle Taylerson, the company has "sold through our Fire phone inventory in the U.S. and globally." Amazon ran out at the end of August, but the news was first reported Tuesday by GeekWire -- a testament to how unpopular the Fire has been. 

While Amazon didn't say that the Fire will be permanently absent from its website, the company reportedly restructured its Lab126 hardware development division and laid off dozens of engineers who had been working on the Fire. It's not clear when, if ever, the company plans to release a new smartphone. 

It's an ignoble end for a smartphone that fizzled shortly after Amazon announced it a year ago. While the company built a great deal of anticipation for its first foray into the smartphone market, Amazon wasn't able to convince users to buy the device. In October of last year, the company took a $170 million write-down on the Fire, based primarily on unsold inventory. 

The lack of sales didn't stem from a lack of trying on Amazon's part. While the Fire originally cost $199 with a two-year contract from AT&T, Amazon later cut the price to $0.99 with a similar contract. 

The phone was hobbled by Amazon's insistence upon using its own FireOS, a fork of Android the company developed to power its tablets and smartphone. Developers needed to port their Android apps over to Amazon's AppStore if they were to work with the phone, which meant it had a smaller catalog of applications compared to the Google Play Store.

Amazon isn't getting out of the hardware business, however. The company's Echo virtual assistant and Bluetooth speaker has proven quite popular with users, and it recently released "Dash Buttons" that let users order a single household product from the online retailer with one press. It also sells its Fire HD tablets and Kindle e-readers.

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Blair Hanley Frank

IDG News Service
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