Fire Phone — the best failure for Amazon?!

Tommy Kan
2 min readNov 23, 2020

Here is the simple but powerful formula of success I want to share today with you!
Big failure ->Big Learning ->Big Pivoting-> Big Success!

Who does NOT agree upon the famous saying all over the world — “Failure is the mother of Success”? My guess — very few. It’s common sense in today’s world. Right?

However, who wants big failure? Again, very few, maybe close to zero. Nobody wants to fail when you set out to achieve something.


To any key event happens in our life, there are two ways to handle it :
1. React, most people do React because that’s what our brain will naturally do. For most people just do reacting, what will a big failure lead them to feel? Disappointing and maybe anger.
2. Respond, few people and mostly successful or will-be-successful people will respond since they can step back to analyze the event at a bigger view and context. And since they can pull themself out of the failure itself and view it from an *outsider*’s perspective, most likely they can maximize the learning from that failure, hence sooner or later, they will turn that failure into a success which is exactly how Jeff Bezos turned the gigantic failure of its Fire Phone into the gigantic success of its Echo/Alexa smart home ecosystem.

Based on above article, Fire Phone was Project-B and Echo was Project-D, both were top secret projects in Amazon. Per some industry anecdotes, after the iconic failure post Fire phone, Jeff took the whole project team(couple of hundred ppl) to Hawaii, did a big *celebration* with many promotions to the team. And then he asked the magic question to the team“what’s the next?” which eventually led to the birth of Echo/Alexa — a huge success against the same competitors from the phone area incl. Google, Apple, Samsung — Amazon holds 40+% market share of smart speaker in US now.

There are many reasons why Jeff Bezos became the Richest man on this planet, and one of those reasons should be how he truly encourage the team to keep experimenting by truely embracing the FAILUREs like the Fire Phone one.

Again, here is the formula of success:
Try -> Fail -> Embrace ->Learn ->Pivot-> Succeed!



Tommy Kan

A lifelong learner and explorer! Grew up in Asia, now enjoying the dynamism of Silicon Valley in the sunny California.