Remember how Amazon’s Fire phone sputtered and died? Well, Amazon’s back with a new, less ambitious way to try to make some money from smartphones. It’s bringing the old standby of lockscreen ads to various handsets, in return for which it will knock $50 off the price.
The ads will show when the screen is locked, but will also show up between any lockscreen notifications that pop up. And that’s not all—the phones will also come with a number of non-removable Amazon apps pre-installed. (Presumably, that will include the Kindle e-reader app.)
At the moment, the deal only applies to two phones—the new Motorola Moto G and the BLU R1 HD. Neither one is on sale in the US yet, but their expected launch date is July 12th. The phones will be unlocked, so can be taken to any carrier that supports them. Also, it’s only available to Amazon Prime members, who are already paying $99 per year for that program.
A number of Amazon customers say they actually like the “Special Offers” lockscreen ads on their Kindle or Fire devices, given that they can call their attention to book sales they would otherwise have missed. Getting those ads on their smartphone screen as well could be a natural fit for that sort of customer, especially if it put more money back in their pockets. And that could be a significant savings for some of the phones—it will knock fully half the price off the BLU, which will be $50 after the discount. The Moto G will be $150 after the discount, and Amazon’s even knocked a further $25 off for customers who pre-order.
This will mark the first time Amazon has subsidized other manufacturers’ devices with its lockscreen ads—something it didn’t even do for its own Fire Phone. Might it expand the program to other devices in the future? More phones seem likely, but probably not tablets, given that the Fire tablets have been quite successful on their own.
Could this also get more people reading Kindle e-books on their phones? You never know—if the app is there, surely some people will find a use for it.