Business Insider checked out half-a-dozen New York City AT&T stores to see how the phone's were doing on their inaugural day. Here's what we saw and heard:
Generally, there was a huge range of preparedness across the different stores. At one of the first ones we visited, every AT&T employee donned a Fire phone T-shirt, there were two phones on display for testing, and several huge ads. At another, smaller store, the phone hadn't even arrived yet even though it was 3:30 p.m., and employees said that they had shirts, but hadn't started wearing them yet. One sales person told us that the phone was mostly tailored to readers, because of the screen-size and good Kindle integration. We gave him the review unit Amazon gave us to test and that was his first look at the device and its dynamic perspective and Firefly features.
One salesman in Manhattan admitted that he had hardly touched the phone yet. "It just came in today," he said. The main features he saw on first glance, however, were its enhanced 3D-like graphics and powerful camera. Few people had come in asking about it, nor had any sales been made. “We’re giving it a few days to test out,” he told us. When asked, he added that he made no commission for selling the Fire Phone specifically.
Other reps also said that there was no commission, too, though one referenced a small employee rewards program for selling the Fire phone. It's not a monetary bonus, but we did hear something like a free trip might be involved.
One store manager told us that he'd definitely seen an uptick in foot-traffic asking about the phone in the week before the launch. He liked selling it because it "catered a little bit to everyone," highlighting the gaming experience for the younger crowd and the Mayday button, which offers 24-hour video tech support for the less technologically savvy. He also said that they'd sold two so far that day on his shift, between mid-day and 2 p.m. Personally, he chose to make the phone his new work device, and loved it. He admitted that it definitely made him shop more.
In a different store, a rep said he had hardly tested out the phone, and had made zero sales. He said that he thought Mayday was the most important feature, and beyond that, nothing seemed to stick out.
One customer, who was at the AT&T buying a new iPhone 5S, admitted that he'd never heard of the Amazon phone. He preferred iPhones over anything else because of their simplicity and power.
An AT&T rep in the same store said he hadn't sold any phones yet that day, but expected to sell at least three by the end of the day. He said that in the week prior, three people had also come in for pre-orders, which his store couldn't fulfill. Two were in their fifties, and one was in his twenties.
Several sales reps admitted that they get people in asking about the iPhone 6 all the time, even on the Fire phone's launch day.
All in all, it didn't seem like there was huge excitement for the new phone, from either sellers or customers. The general census: It's still early, wait and see.