Amazon Offers Android Discounts for Lock-screen Ads

Prime_Exclusive_BLU_R1_HD_Moto_GAmazons device ambitions seem to have stalled at the Kindle and the Echo (anyone remember the Fire phone? No, us neither) but that hasnt stopped the online retail giant from making its presence felt there in other ways. Its latest tactic is to offer customers a $50 (£37) off two Android smartphones, in exchange for placing ads on the phones lock-screen.

Starting this week, Prime members in the US will be able to claim the discount on unlocked versions of the Moto G and Blu R1 HD, provided they agree to view lock-screen ads similar to those which appear on Amazons Fire tablets and Kindle book readers.

Unlike the Fire Phone, which used Amazon services in place of the standard Google apps, these phones will retain all the standard apps including Play Store, YouTube, Gmail and the Chrome browser, as well as coming pre-loaded with Amazon apps for shopping, watching video content and streaming music.

With the discount, the Blue R1 HD will cost just $49, while the Moto G will drop to $149. In many ways, the deal mirrors similar partnerships created by Microsoft, which has aggressively courted Android manufacturers and now has deals with more than 75 smartphone makers to place Microsoft apps such as Skype, OneDrive and the Microsoft Office suite on phones.

“Customers love the freedom of unlocked phones – its the fastest growing category within cell phones on – so we set out to find a way to make them even more affordable for our Prime members,” said Laura Orvidas, vice president of consumer electronics at Amazon.

“We currently offer low prices supported by lock-screen offers and ads on our Fire tablets and Kindle eReaders, and theyve been a hit – in fact, the vast majority of customers choose the lower-priced option. Now were lowing prices in a similar way on new, unlocked smartphones.”

If Amazon is serious about pursuing this tactic, the retailers heft could make it a strong partner for smaller manufacturers looking for a way to differentiate themselves in the crowded low-end Android device market, especially if the partnerships are offered internationally and in emerging markets.

However, the announcement represents yet another example of Amazon placing more eggs in the basket of its Prime subscribers, in the hope of driving their average spend even higher. Should the retailer instead be focusing on better services for its everyday users, or continuing to target the high-spending few? Only time will tell.

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