The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Amazon has laid off “dozens” of engineers at its hardware development office, Lab126, in Silicon Valley. Along with the layoffs is a broader reassessment of current projects, with some being slowed down and others being stopped all together. Rest assured that there is no mention or indication that the Fire TV is one of the affected projects.
The restructuring at Lab126 is a result of the poor performance of the Fire Phone. One of my sources at Lab126 tells me that many members of the Fire Phone engineering team were reassigned to other projects late last year, with many of them joining the Fire TV team. That shuffling of personnel created many redundant positions, resulting in the layoffs we’re hearing about today.
Some of the projects said to be affected by these changes are a 14-inch tablet codenamed Project Cairo, a projector codenamed Shimmer, and a stylus codenamed Nitro that converts handwritten notes into digital lists. Projects that are still in the works are a kitchen computer codenamed Kabinet that is meant to act as a smart home hub, and a glasses-free 3D tablet using different technology from the Fire Phone. As for the Fire Phone, it’s development has been shifted to Amazon’s headquarters in Seattle and has “stretched out its timeline … indefinitely”.
Lab126 hadn’t had any large layoffs like this in its 11-year history. The effects of the Fire Phone’s misstep, which resulted in a $170 million charge due to unsold inventory, couldn’t be postponed forever.