Amazon smartphone’s killer feature could be disruption of data prices


Amazon’s rumored smartphone might be loaded with radical new hardware and strange UI gestures, but its most powerful feature could be its ability to drive down mobile data prices.

A specialized data plan called Amazon Prime Data will make its debut on Amazon’s phone, according to a report from BGR attributed to “multiple trusted sources.” If the anonymous sources’ information proves accurate, Prime Data could take the sting out of binging on streaming movies, TV shows and music. More importantly, Amazon’s bold initiative could force the entire industry to lower prices, much like Bezos has done with books, online shopping and tablets.

Details on Prime Data are murky with speculation ranging from deep discounts on data service, or just a couple months of free data along with free streaming of Prime. However, Amazon’s history of providing low or no-cost to access its services should get carriers and other handset makers worried.

Amazon has provided free 3G data to Kindle users since the introduction of the e-ink Kindle in 2007 and quickly captured the majority of the e-reader market. It also launched a subsidized $50 LTE plan with the Kindle Fire HD, giving users 250GB of data per month.

Unleashing a similar plan on the monstrous smartphone market could have a huge impact on the mobile landscape by exerting some downward pressure on grossly overpriced monthly data bills, if BGR’s report is true.

Like the iPhone before it, Amazon plans to launch exclusively on AT&T this summer, which already has Sponsored data plans where companies can foot the bill for data used on select services. Thanks to API and co-branding requirements Amazon Prime Data won’t be bundled with AT&T’s Sponsored Data plans, according to the report, but an agreement could be made to build off the product.

If Amazon’s phone is as innovative as rumors are claiming, the demand for it from customers could force carriers to adopt Prime Data if they want to carry the phone, the same way Apple got AT&T and others to adopt Visual Voicemail and other iPhone specific features on their networks.

A smartphone spilling out free data could be just the ticket to attract millions more media crazed mobile addicts to Jeff Bezos’ cause, if only they’d just announce it already.