BGR.com reported on this development earlier today, saying the new device — expected to be announced this summer — will include Prime Data. However, Amazon is remaining tight-lipped about what makes this data so prime.
If, as BGR’s sources claim, the Amazon phone will initially be an AT&T exclusive, it’s possible that Prime Data could be some version of AT&T’s recently launched (but little heard-about since) Sponsored Data program, in which content companies foot the bill for AT&T customers’ wireless traffic to their sites.
In an Amazon example, that could mean that streaming of Amazon Prime videos over the AT&T network don’t count against the users’ monthly data allotment, or perhaps that some of that data won’t be counted each month. The same could go for streaming of video and audio content stored on Amazon’s cloud. The company did something similar with its 3G Kindle readers, where book downloads didn’t count toward monthly data caps. Of course, the size of a Kindle e-book is nothing compared to that of streamed 90-minute movie, so there would have to be limits.
A simpler answer is that Prime Data is just heavily discounted data, giving users access to all sites — even competitors — for less per gigabyte.
It all seems to depend on Amazon’s motivations for selling the phone — Does it want to sell Amazon Prime subscriptions or sell apps?
If Amazon were to subsidize data use on Amazon content, it would give the company a distinctive edge over Netflix in the mobile market as users would still he hit with the full data bill for streaming content from non-Amazon services. Of course, while Amazon may want millions of more people signing up for Prime, it may not want to deal with the headache and costs of serving up videos to those millions more people, especially when it’s spending money to cover that data.
But if Prime Data is just a lower monthly rate — or something like 500MB free each month, regardless of source — it could stand to improve its app-selling business. Amazon has had an Android app store for several years, but it lives in the shadow of Google’s much larger store. A phone with cheaper data that uses the Amazon App store as its primary source for apps means more users downloading from Amazon and more commission on the sales of those apps.
Additionally, people may be more prone to trying out apps or downloading larger apps if they aren’t worried about having their data caps dinged. And even if someone moves to a non-Amazon phone when they upgrade a year or two down the road, they would need to continue using the Amazon store to port over all those purchased apps to the next device.
Or maybe it just means you a screensaver with Jeff Bezos’ lovely staring out wistfully.
Keep in mind, this is all just speculation based on what little is known about the Amazon phone and the company’s past actions. If anyone at Amazon wants to correct us and let us know the actual details of the phone and Prime Data, just plant a flag in the flower pot on the third-floor balcony across the street from the Consumerist Cave and we’ll meet at the water fountain at 1:22 a.m. ET like we did before.