The Amazon Phone is almost certainly on its way, but the details surrounding its features and selling points are still somewhat unclear. Multiple sources have revealed that 3D effects and gesture-based features will be present on the device, but today another detail has leaked out.
BGR reports that Amazon plans to launch a specialized data plan for its new smartphone called Amazon Prime Data. The details surrounding the plan are pretty muddy right now, but the general idea is that Amazon would allow for free streaming of its own music, movies, and TV shows for users, similar to the likes of AT&T’s Sponsored Data plans, which allow corporate companies to foot the bill for the data used in work-related apps.
According to the report, Amazon’s smartphone may run exclusively on AT&T’s network, but will likely not be bundled into the same Sponsored Data plans due to “API limitations and cobranding requirements in apps that use Sponsored Data.” However, that’s not to say that the two sides can’t negotiate a comfortable arrangement building off of AT&T’s Sponsored Data product.
BGR seems relatively unsure about the actual details of Prime Data, and suggests that the plan might instead include a few free months of data coverage, or steep discounts compared to other smartphone data plans.
If Amazon is planning to allow free streaming of its own content, it fits with the company’s general MO. Amazon has always tried to make its content as accessible as possible, and relied upon sales there instead of in the hardware margins. This is why Amazon hardware, such as the Fire tablets and the new Fire TV, is so inexpensive.
In the case of the new media box, Amazon seems to heavily favor its own content with special performance features and search accessibility. Based on what’s been said about Prime Data, the same would be true on the smartphone.
Plus, Amazon is said to be considering a streaming music service launch, which would be yet another channel for Prime Data users to integrate into the Amazon ecosystem.
In the end, Prime Data seems like a much better buying incentive for an Amazon smartphone than any gimmicky 3D interface elements and gesture control. Amazon clearly knows the value of providing low- or no-cost connectivity with its hardware – it has been offering completely free 3G data network access on its Kindle reader hardware since the launch of the first generation e-ink Kindle in 2007. Amazon also introduced a special $50 subsidized annual AT&T LTE plan for the Kindle Fire HD at launch in 2012, which brought users 250MB of data usage per month.
Amazon, like other Internet companies, needs users to have access before it can sell them its digital content, or funnel them through its ecommerce properties. Prime Data, whatever form it ends up taking, is likely to be a way to get its smartphone buyers online more cheaply than they might otherwise, and if nothing else about the mysterious Amazon phone has seemed that appealing thus far, this at lest does.