For some time now Amazon has been pushing their Amazon Prime service. For just $79 a year (less if you’re an active college student with a valid .edu email address) you can take advantage of unlimited free two day shipping on eligible items as well as enjoy the perk of a selection of streaming video titles free on demand to any supported device. While the former has been the major selling point for many so far, the latter is going to be an increasingly big deal with the coming of the Kindle Fire.
There is a reason that the Kindle Fire will be coming with a month worth of Amazon Prime membership. The device is designed to work as an ideal portable video streamer. The Amazon Instant Video library has been growing regularly since right around the time the first Kindle Tablet rumors started popping up, and it hasn’t stopped yet. A significant portion of that is free to Prime members.
Of course, as with any such program, there are issues. Most significantly is the fact that much of the benefit is restricted to the United States. Amazon’s other sites mostly have their own versions of Amazon Prime with similar benefits (such as Amazon.co.uk offering free 1 day shipping and evening or weekend delivery discounts in select areas) but as yet none of them seem to involve the video service. While there are obvious reasons for this, including the complications of international media rights acquisition and local content distribution laws, that doesn’t mean that the problem isn’t there. It is slightly strange that Amazon would choose to call their program basically the same thing in multiple countries while offering different benefits depending on location.
This is, incidentally, widely believed to relate directly to the Kindle Fire‘s lack of international presence. Before Amazon can hope to make any money off of such a device, they need to have the media services in place for it to tie into. No video streaming, no Kindle Fire.
Will this be changing in the future? I think it is safe to say that most people expect Amazon to be making a move to expand their digital media services internationally in the near future. The recent expansion of the Kindle eReaders into new markets could even be seen as a way of testing the waters, so to speak. I don’t think that this will happen soon enough to please most people, though. Given the time required for Amazon to build a significant library of video content, Prime members are likely to be left on the back burner as far as this goes for some months yet. More in countries whose Amazon presence is still quite new.
Still, watching for changes in how the Amazon Prime services are handled may be a good way to predict Amazon’s next moves in a given country. As closely tied into it as the Kindle Fire seems to be, a beefing up of related content seems to be a likely predictor of a local tablet release. As popular as their new tablet is, I can’t see Amazon stopping at just the US.