By all accounts, Amazon's $649 Fire Phone - the retail giant's first and only smartphone - was a complete disaster. Reports indicated that in its first month of availability, just 35,000 of them were sold across the US. It also didn't help that it launched in the UK one day after prices were slashed by around $200 in the US in response to the pitiful sales there.
But despite costing Amazon hundreds of millions of dollars, the company's CEO isn't fazed. In fact, he says the Fire Phone fiasco was small fry compared to some of what the company has in the works.
"If you think that's a big failure," he told The Washington Post, "we're working on much bigger failures right now. And I am not kidding. And some of them are going to make the Fire Phone look like a tiny little blip."
Like many successful entrepreneurs, Bezos believes in experimenting and being prepared to fail. Indeed, much like Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson - who has often described failure as inevitable, and believes it should always be "embraced and seen as an opportunity" - Bezos isn't afraid to take big risks, even if that leads to similarly big failures.
Bezos said that those in business need to make "big, noticeable" mistakes, and that "the size of your mistakes needs to grow along with [the company]." If they don't, he added, "you're not going to be inventing at a scale that can actually move the needle." He went on to explain:
The great thing is when you take this approach, a small number of winners pay for dozens, hundreds of failures. And so every single important thing that we have done has taken a lot of risk taking, perseverance, guts, and some of them have worked out, most of them have not.
That has to happen at every scale level, all the way down, and you have to take shots...you always learn something and you move on.
So while it's certainly easy to mock Amazon for its failed Fire Phone experiment, as far as Bezos is concerned, it was just another step on the path to longer-term gains.