Amazon.com Inc. is discontinuing its pandemic-era kids’ video calling device amid lackluster sales and a shift in consumer behavior.
Launched a year ago, the Amazon Glow emerged from the company’s Grand Challenge moonshot laboratory. It seemed the perfect pandemic-era product: a combination video screen and projector that helped children get face time, play games, read and even draw with distant relatives.
But sales were slow, and Amazon is now looking to shift employees who worked on the gadget into other roles.
“At Amazon we think big, experiment, and invest in new ideas to delight customers,” said Amazon spokeswoman Kristy Schmidt, who confirmed the Glow’s cancellation. “We also continually evaluate the progress and potential of our products to deliver customer value, and we regularly make adjustments based on those assessments. We will be sharing updates and guidance with Glow customers soon.”
Amazon has taken a number of measures to restrain costs as sales growth stagnates, including shuttering warehouses and freezing hiring for corporate jobs in its retail business.
Reviewers praised the device’s concept, but said it felt unfinished. A monthly subscription to an Amazon kid-focused service and a recommendation that the person on the other end use a tablet, not a smartphone, also may have limited its appeal. The device also hit the market as many consumers began to resume their normal habits following the release of Covid-19 vaccines.
Amazon doesn’t disclose sales data for its electronics, but Glow had about 500 customer reviews on the company’s retail site, low even by the standard of Amazon’s niche or experimental products. Glow was steeply discounted on Tuesday, listed at $150 for members of Amazon’s Prime program, 55% off the list price. Later in the day, it was unavailable.
Amazon’s devices group has produced such hits as the Echo smart speaker and Fire streaming sticks, but also has a history of launching devices that seem to be looking for a purpose. A voice-activated microwave oven launched in 2018 never caught on with shoppers, and Amazon’s effort to make its own smartphone, the Fire Phone launched in 2014, remains its biggest dud.