Amazon is all over the news lately with all sorts of new products and services. One bit of news that is catching the eye of many a mobile geek is word that Amazon is planning to announce its own smartphone this summer aiming for a fall release. The Boy Genius Report (BGR) has been breaking quite a few stories about that device. Today it breaks another, although speculative, report that Amazon might be rolling out a new and possibly “free” data plan to go along with that new smartphone for Amazon Prime subscribers, called Prime Data. What is Amazon Prime Data?
No one knows for sure, but the somewhat informed speculation bouncing around the web makes it sound like an intriguing new way to sell some smartphones. Sources aren’t confiding all to the Boy Genius Report just yet, but here’s how some of the speculation is running.
Amazon Prime subscribers might see free access to Amazon services such as Instant Video, or music streamed through Amazon’s Cloud Player. The “free” part would mean that the data streamed wouldn’t count against any sort of cap. How would that work exactly?
Amazon may be teaming up with AT&T to roll this out. One possible line of thinking is that the new phone might launch as an exclusive on AT&T and tie in with the AT&T’s Sponsored Data program unveiled in January 2014. Essentially that program lets a company pay AT&T for the bandwidth used by an App or service, and not the consumer. BGR speculates further that the current AT&T Sponsored Data program might not be quite a perfect fit given API access and how AT&T branding requirements currently stand.
Yet another idea is that this may simply be a discount plan for Amazon Prime subscribers on data plan costs, or that the data plan may have a free component that lasts for a portion of time before payment kicks in.
The upshot of the moment is no one knows for sure what Prime Data really is, but based on the speculation, this might give Amazon a better attention grabber for a new smartphone than the already leaked info about its new phone incorporating 3D display technology. Some see that as a gimmick. Perhaps a distinguishing one, but a gimmick nonetheless.
There is some firm basis for this speculation regarding Amazon. Amazon Kindle eReaders offered essentially free 3G connectivity for downloading, syncing, and purchasing books. Amazon does currently offer Prime subscribers some free video content as a part of the subscription. Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos certainly has a history of pushing new ideas when he wants to enter a market.
Amazon recently raised the price of its Amazon Prime subscription from $79 to $99 per year. That move may have been in preparation for something along these lines.
Whatever Prime Data may turn out to be, it could be a very compelling way of selling Amazon’s new smartphone. “Free” content and its delivery from the same branded source as the phone could have consumer appeal. It could also potentially shake up the current marketing strategies for other carriers.
The marketing case would lose some luster though if any “free” amount of data was limited to smaller amounts per month the way we’ve seen with other promotions. Simply put, if the plans are promoted as a way to gain “free” access to streaming content, small data plans would be exhausted very quickly.
Keep in mind that early reporting on an Amazon smartphone cautioned that Amazon may not launch, even though Amazon was indeed secretly trying to woo developers into creating for the platform.
Will Jeff Bezos pull a rabbit in the form of free data out of a hat? We’ll have to stay tuned to find out.