Amazon’s move into the smartphone market didn’t go as well as planned, but the company is trying another approach to getting more of its apps and services in your pocket. The online retailer is launching a program akin to its Special Offers program but for non Amazon devices, offering discounts on devices in exchange for ads and preloaded apps.
Two devices will be eligible initially, the new Moto G and the BLU R1 HD -- neither is available yet in the US, but they are expected to ship on July 12th. They are available for preorder priced at $150 and $50, respectively. In exchange for the $50 savings offered on each, the phones will ship with personalized ads on the lockscreen and notifications tray, as well as preloaded Amazon apps for shopping, watching video and playing music.
The ads can be dismissed as they appear but not turned off altogether. Amazon insists that no personal data about smartphone users will be shared with third-party advertisers, though it will reports things like whether customers clicked on an ad and bought something.
As for the preloaded apps you can remove them from the home screen as you can with any Android handset but won’t be able to uninstall them. These are unlocked handsets, however, so it isn’t clear if more tech savvy customers will be able to just root the device to skip the ads. Also, with the Kindle, customers are allowed to pay a fee to remove the ads should they want to, but there’s no word on whether a similar option will be available to smartphone buyers.
Amazon hasn't shared sales data on its Special Offers program for ad-subsidized Kindle devices, but given it’s been in place for years and now expanding to non-Kindle devices, the move suggests it’s seen some level of success.
The new offer is only available to Prime subscribers. It remains to be seen if Amazon can strike similar deals with other phone manufacturers to expand its offering.