“And I thought, This is a CEO who cares about design; what a wonderful place to be.” Eventually, however, this designer grew frustrated, as did others. “In essence, we were not building the phone for the customer—we were building it for Jeff,” this source says. With Bezos managing every critical decision, teams began second-guessing themselves trying to anticipate how he would react.
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Yet Bezos had profound reasons for preferring a top-of-the-line smartphone. Multiple sources indicate that the premium phone represented a “repositioning of the brand away from being so utilitarian and toward becoming more of a lifestyle brand like Apple,” as the high-ranking Lab126 designer phrases it. Bezos expressed some of these sentiments himself in a memo he wrote years ago, entitled “Amazon.love.” In the memo, first revealed by journalist Brad Stone in The Everything Store, Bezos describes his vision to transform Amazon into a brand such as Apple, Nike, or Disney, which are “widely loved by their customers, and are even perceived as cool.”