Amazon.com founder and CEO Jeff Bezos is surely one of the smartest people on the planet. He is also a Burner – one worth $30 billion, who made a lazy $128.5 million today.
Burning Man obviously made a big impact on Burner Bezos, because he now seems to have a bit of an obsession with flamage.
First he introduced the Kindle. Then, the Kindle Fire and Fire TV. And now, simply, Fire. Which contains a new Augmented Reality technology, called Firefly.
Bezos has some big cojones, going up against smartphone giants Apple and Samsung, and rival Billionaire Burners Google with their open source Android platform. The new phone connects to an artificial intelligence server, which can identify 100 million different objects through the phone’s camera – and help you purchase the same from Amazon.com, natch.
VentureBeat has raised some privacy concerns with the Fire. Look out for them trying to make sense of all the bizarre objects on the Playa this year. Last year we had 8 iPhone Apps to Survive Burning Man, now perhaps Amazon’s cloud can accumulate an amazing array of unique objects and footage from its Fire users at Burning Man. How BMorg will monetize or impede that, remains to be seen. Google certainly cleans up with all the revenues from YouTube footage taken at Burning Man, some of which has millions of views. It is unknown whether Google pays BMOrg a royalty for this.
Amazon is a fascinating company, and the Amazon Fire Phone is a fascinating machine for connecting you with stuff to buy. It’s probably also the biggest single invasion of your privacy for commercial purposes ever.
And no one seems to have noticed.
There’s a lot of gee-whiz gadgetry in the new Fire Phone: a 3-D screen, head sensors, dynamic perspective shifts as you move, and real-time identification of over 100 million objects. That last part, the real-time identification, is the new Firefly function.
Firefly is a seriously impressive combination of hardware, software, and massive cloud chops that delivers an Apple-like simplicity to identify objects like books, movies, games, and more, just by pointing your Fire Phone’s camera at them and tapping the Firefly button.
Lest you noticed a common denominator to those items and get the crazy idea that Firefly is only for stuff you can buy at Amazon, it also recognizes songs (oh, you can buy those on Amazon too) and TV shows (ditto) as well as phone numbers, printed information, and QR codes.
How do you think it recognizes those things, including text on images, for which Amazon says it will offer language translation features later this year?
Well, the Firefly button and the camera button are one and the same. Meaning that whenever you’re using Firefly, you’re using the camera…All of those pictures require processing, analysis, and matching, presumably at a level — if they can identify 100 million objects — that can only be done in the cloud, and not on a small handheld device with 2 GB of RAM and 32 GB of on-board storage.
Fortunately for you, dear consumer, Amazon has kindly consented to store all your photos, forever, in its vast cloudy server farms. How gracious Amazon is, providing that massive service for free! How lucky are you, getting all that for free!
…Probably not as lucky as Amazon. By storing all the photos you’ll ever take with Firefly, along with GPS location data, ambient audio, and more metadata than you can shake a stick at in Amazon Web Services, Amazon will get unprecedented insight into who you are, what you own, where you go, what you do, who’s important in your life, what you like, and, probably, what you might be most likely to buy…Big data? This is gargantuan data…the NSA’s wet dream.
Firefly is “instant gratification,” says TechCrunch. Fire Phone is an “amazing piece of hardware,” saysWired. Amazon’s Fire Phone APIs are a dream for developers, [VentureBeat] said. Firefly lets you “easily price-check items,” says GigaOm. Firefly is the phone’s “sexiest feature,” [VentureBeat] said.
It also might just make you Amazon’s bitch.
“We care about consumers’ privacy,” the Amazon press release announcing Fire Phone does not say.
Bezos recently (and reluctantly) bought the Washington Post, from Facebook founder and Billionaire Burner Mark “grilled cheese” Zuckerberg’s mentor Don Graham. The Post has long been linked to the intelligence community, and around the same time Amazon announced a $600 million deal with the CIA – called “a recipe for Big Brother Hell” by privacy activists.
Fire into the clouds, Burners!