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Amazon’s Smartphone Could be an AT&T Exclusive, and Other Crazy Ideas

Hot on bgr-a-phone-1the heels of a leak earlier this week about the Amazon’s smartphone features comes a new report that Amazon’s still unnamed smartphone could be available exclusively on AT&T.

BGR has learned from multiple trusted sources that Amazon is planning to offer a unique wireless data plan alongside its first smartphone, which is set to launch in the coming months.

The plan is tentatively named “Prime Data,” and it will be positioned as one of several key selling points for the phone.

Amazon is holding details of the data package very close the chest and as a result, our sources were not able to confirm exactly what the company has in store for Prime Data. Several sources were willing to speculate based on limited knowledge of Amazon’s plans, however.

More than one trusted source we spoke with told BGR that Amazon’s smartphone could be made available exclusively on AT&T’s network in the United States. If that is in fact the case, Prime Data could be the first high-profile deal based on a setup similar to the carrier’s new “Sponsored Data” program.

The details about the data plan comes as no surprise, but the speculation that Amazon might offer their smartphone as an exclusive is.

Amazon offered their own budget data plan with the Kindle Fire HD 8.9 when it launched in late 2012, so it would not surprise me if Amazon offered a similar talk+data for the smartphone.

But an AT&T exclusive? I don’t think that’s going to happen – not unless Amazon is getting a big payment from AT&T. And given that Amazon is customer-focused and not in the habit of signing crony deals with telecoms, I don’t see such a deal as a high probability.


The Amazon smartphone is currently expected to launch some time this year, probably in June. The latest rumors say that it is running Android on a SnapDragon CPU with 2GB RAM. It’s supposed to have a 4.7″ screen with a total of 6 cameras (including 4 low-power IR cameras).

The rumors also say that it could have any number of interesting features (one, two, three, four), though it’s not clear that any of the rumored features actually require the 4 IR cameras we have been hearing about.

On a related note, is anyone else puzzled by all the leaks that do not include a mention of the smartphone’s name? Seriously, we’re now on leak 6 or 7 and yet we still don’t know what Amazon plans to call the smartphone. We don’t even know the codename for the phone.

I do have to wonder about the accuracy of all these leaks, given that the leakers don’t have a codename to hang on the smartphone, but perhaps Amazon’s internal security clampdown is to blame. All of these leaks could be coming from outsiders who were shown the phone but not told its name. That makes some sense, I think.


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Valentine April 25, 2014 um 4:01 pm

For Amazon, the big money would come from software and services, not hardware (like Apple?).
Limiting themselves to just one provider, would be incredibly stupid.

Nate Hoffelder April 25, 2014 um 5:21 pm

Yep. Amazon makes their money when you use the device, and that goes against signing a contract with a telecom.

fjtorres April 25, 2014 um 6:48 pm

Amazon and AT&T have a history together: AT&T is the wireless channel for the 3G kindles and they offered a special deal for the 4G FireHD 8.9.
So a special carrier deal with them would not be out of character.
Exclusivity? Not impossible…

Consider that for all the "making money when they use the device" the FireTV has a hefty margin baked in. A loss leader it ain’t. And there is no reason to expect a phone to be one, either.

Nate Hoffelder April 25, 2014 um 7:04 pm

"the FireTV has a hefty margin baked in"

What hefty margin? The Fire TV has specs that are significantly more expensive than the Apple TV and yet it retails for the same price. Has anyone broken down the price, do you know?

fjtorres April 25, 2014 um 8:46 pm

Never mind Apple: look to the total Roku 3 package that sells for $80 at Amazon itself.
With a remote that is more expensive than Amazon’s.
And that sells at a profit at $80.
At their volumes, I doubt those things cost more than $60 to build.
I’m guessing Apple TV costs less than $50, which fits Apple’s 100%-plus markup policies.

Nate Hoffelder April 25, 2014 um 9:01 pm

Roku 3 has a dual-core Broadcom chip. The Fire Tv has a quad-core Snapdragon chip. That’s a big difference in price.

fjtorres April 25, 2014 um 11:34 pm

Its not going to be $20.
Or anything close to that.
Putting audio in the remote is going to cost more.
Anyway you look at it, the Fire has at least $20 worth of built-in profit. It has to because Amazon has no guarantee the buyer will spend any extra money on games or Amazon videos. Somebody might fall in love with the specsheet and get it to watch only Hulu and Netflix.

Nate Hoffelder April 26, 2014 um 4:19 am

You’re probably right.

I was going to nitpick details about the margin and operating cost, but then I remembered the ZTE Funbox. This is a FireTV-ish Android game console, and it sells for $113 in China. It comes with a Tegra 4 chip and a controller.

If ZTE can turn a profit on the Funbox then Amazon must have an adequate margin on the FireTV.

Dave Z April 26, 2014 um 8:47 am

That chip is a year old. I can’t imagine Amazon sells these at a loss. The margin may be smaller than Roku who’s primary income is hardware, tho I believe advertising and affiliate fees are an increasingly higher percent of revenue. (Whereas Amazon hopes they’ll move Amazon Instant video rentals/purchases and Prime subscriptions – and, of course, solidify their ecosystem.) Also, Apple TV hardware is like 2 years old at this point and I’m sure they make crazy good margins at this point, especially given the anemic IR remote. Higher quality materials, but the internals are not notable. But it seems pretty clear there’s an Apple TV refresh on the way.

Nate Hoffelder April 26, 2014 um 9:36 am

The Apple TV, I kid you not, is running on a single core Apple A5 chip:

That’s the chip that went into the iPad 2, so if Apple isn’t making a small fortune on the Apple TV I would be deeply surprised.

fjtorres April 26, 2014 um 11:01 am

Apple doesn’t bother with any device where they can’t get at least a 50% margin so yes, they’re making a mint off the Apple TV, which should be more properly named iTunesTV. Which is who it sells to, people heavily vested in iTunes music and video.
It is also why they haven’t done a TV set. No matter how they, ahem, cook it, they won’t be able to charge Apple-grade margins.

Nate Hoffelder April 26, 2014 um 1:53 pm

My take on the Apple TV set rumors is that Apple has already released a smart TV; it’s called the iMac:

In general the TV set rumors made little sense, and not just from the point of the profit margin. Why would Apple stick their set top box inside a TV and take on all the logistics, support, and other hassles that would entail? Better just to sell the little box.

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