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Amazon’s Bezos Restructuring Lab 126 following the Well-Known Failure of the Fire Phone

January 5, 2015 - Written By Phil Bourget

Amazon has made news weekly ever since the launch of their Fire Phone flagship device.  And since the device failed to catch anyone in particular’s attention for more than the length of some of the device’s advertisements, Amazon has had to cut its losses and pay out for the still-possessed millions of devices.  The company has made its improvements, however, to their Kindle line of tablets, introducing the 6-inch, hundred-dollar model, as well as an equally reasonably-priced 7-inch variant.  But Amazon has strayed into the real world from their online marketplace, to begin selling groceries, listening constantly with the Echo, and now a restructuring of a so-called Lab 126.

Never heard of Lab 126?  Neither had I, really, and that’s kind of the point.  Everyone knows about Google [X], the ‘secret’ team for high-stakes projects at Mountain View.  But not many know the hardware and development group at Amazon, labelled as Lab 126.  Lab 126 is the group of about three-thousand that brought the Fire Phone to its market and death.  Now, that’s not to say that they were to blame, it’s just to say that they are the team that is entirely behind the device.  And, from what some of you may have heard, that could be the reason for the latest news of Bezos and Amazon.

Yes, this was getting to the point and now we’re here.  Amazon’s head, Jeff Bezos, is looking to restructure Lab 126 after the failed Fire Phone, which many have covered in-depth.  Bezos seems to be doing the smart thing, changing the group that had the misstep, but here’s the interesting thing about the process thus far: both vice presidents of Lab 126, of devices and of digital products, have left their positions, one for other opportunities and the other for sabbatical.

Yes, Lab 126 technically has no top-tier leadership at the moment, and many employees and insiders have differing views on the restructure, for obvious reasons.  Observers may see this, as I myself do and you might as well, as a much-needed change to allow for fresh innovation, thought, and perhaps a slightly new direction for future products.  But, and of course with good reason, insiders and employees at Amazon’s Lab 126 have claimed that this is a move by Bezos to both rein in and break apart as punishment the secretive sect of the company.  It would not be far-fetched to assume that this is a mix of both venting on Bezos’s part, as well as a business move to change the structure of something that was in need of it after it proved itself with the Fire Phone.

What we do know is this, though: Amazon hopes to grow the Lab to over three and a half thousand by 2019, and that will be tough given that the Lab will likely have a higher standard to live up to, leaving more room for a slight fumble that would normally not affect an OEM, such as Samsung’s Galaxy S5 reception or Apple’s ridiculousness with the ‘bendgate debacle’ that followed their latest wave of devices.

What the end result of Lab 126 will be is in Bezos’s hands, and that could be great or horrible, depending on who you are what you’ve got to lose if anything changes in Amazon’s secret Lab.  Do you think that this should have happened sooner than now, or is the timing right, especially with CES and the spring round of Android devices coming soon?  What changes would Bezos be smart to make, or avoid making, to ensure no more Fire Phone-like failures in the future?  Let us know down below.