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Amazon CEO: Fire Phone Was a ‘Bold Bet’ That Didn’t Pay Off

Amazon's Fire Phone was an expensive flop, but CEO Jeff Bezos said Tuesday he doesn't regret the company's first foray into the smartphone market.

"People love to focus on things that aren’t working. That’s fine, but it’s incredibly hard to get people to take bold bets. And if you push people to take bold bets, there will be experiments … that don’t work," Bezos said at Business Insider's annual Ignition conference in New York City on Tuesday. (Bezos invested in Business Insider in April 2013.)

The FIre Phone debuted in July to mixed reviews, and in October Amazon was forced to take a $170 million writedown largely due to unsold phone inventory. But Bezos seemed to put the Fire Phone in the category of what he called "smart failures" during the Tuesday discussion. Big Amazon moneymakers like Amazon Web Services, Kindle devices and Prime delivery service "are examples of bold bets that did work," Bezos said. "Companies that don’t continue to experiment, that don’t embrace failure" end up in a rut and find themselves in trouble later, he said. Panel moderator and Business Insider founder Henry Blodget asked when customers can expect another Amazon smartphone, but Bezos declined to be specific. "It’s going to take many iterations. I don’t know. Ask me in some number of years," Bezos said.

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