The Amazon Household program is sort of a basic family tier for Amazon Prime subscribers. It allows Prime users to share several perks with household members.1 Last week the household program gained Prime Photos storage. TechCrunch:
Amazon Household, the program that allows adults living under the same roof to share their Amazon Prime benefits, including free shipping and access to Prime Video streaming, has been expanded today, to now include Prime Photos storage. That means that each account holder will receive unlimited photo storage in the cloud plus an additional 5 GB of storage for videos and other files.
Until today, photo storage was one of the few options that the Household program didn’t include, as it already allows members to share e-books, audiobooks, apps and games across their shared devices.
Amazon Household got introduced earlier this year and has been expanded since then.
It is interesting that Amazon just started adding family bundling this year to Amazon Prime. If you look at the US mobile sector you can see how successful a moat family plan bundles can be.2 Amazon should learn from the mobile market in its home country.
In August of this year Amazon Household got pushed more into the family direction, funnily enough by limiting the sharing options..:
Amazon previously allowed anyone with an Amazon Prime subscription to share shipping benefits and a few others, with up to four other “household” members. But with a change to its policies at the end of July, Amazon now only allows a Prime member to share their Prime benefits with one other adult.
What’s more, anyone sharing an account has access to each other’s credit cards to make purchases. That’s obviously not a problem for spouses or significant others who live together and share their financials, but it does put a damper on sharing your Prime benefits with extended family members, or with your friends or roommates, for example. (..)
In addition to the two adults, each household can also have up to four “child” profiles, which makes it easier for family members to share Kindle books across devices.
..and giving Household members, who are eligible, at the same time more perks:
Up until now, secondary members — people added to a Prime account by the main user — were never able to access all of the program’s perks. In fact, while they were able to enjoy free two-day shipping, they couldn’t do anything else, like watch Prime Instant Videos on their tablet or borrow books from the Kindle Owner’s Lending Library.
However, that has changed through the introduction of Amazon Households, which extends those perks — and more — to secondary users.
It looks very much like with Amazon Household Amazon is starting to slowly build out a family tier. But to really create a lock-in Amazon has to combine more of Prime with its ecosystem within a family context. Here a few thoughts what Amazon could do in the near future:
- Create a ‘family network’ suite of apps and services which makes it easy to: communicate via mobile apps and tablet, makes it easy to coordinate grocery shopping (adult members and underage members could have different accounts), and, in general, makes it easy to integrate family features into Amazon’s own devices and beyond (think Launchpad or Dash Replenisment Service like initatives for third-party device integrations)
- Shared photo sets/folders amongst family members (not just sharing the perk of unlimited storage, but a family wide feature to access photos; if the service is any good this creates a very strong lock-in over just a year or two of using it, deep integration into something like Fire TV can come in very handy here)
- Amazon Prime Family and the Dash should go hand in hand, in both directions. (Advertise for Prime family plans with a cheaper Dash; bundle Dash, Prime Fresh and Prime Family in an attractive way)
- ‘Kids editions’ of Amazon’s hardware as with the guarantee coming with the new kids fire tablet: “2-year worry-free guarantee: if they break it, return it and we’ll replace it for free. No questions asked.”
- New smart home products like the communication device Nucleus (see TechCrunch for more) would be a perfect fit for cross-promotion bundles with a Prime Family plan.
Amazon Household is a free addition to Prime accounts right now, which makes sense given its basic nature. But why not create a family tier that is just, for example, $20 to $50 more per year3 with more perks directed at families?
Until Amazon starts delivering in this direction Amazon Prime will keep a lot of unfulfilled room to grow, for better and for worse.4
A strong family tier could have helped Amazon even with its flopped Fire Phone.
Consider, again, the new “Fire Kids Edition” tablet:
Up to $109 in savings on Fire, 1 year of Amazon FreeTime Unlimited and a Kid-Proof Case, plus a 2-year worry-free guarantee
Not a toy, a full-featured Fire tablet with a 7″ IPS display and front and rear cameras. Add a microSD card for up to 128 GB of additional storage.
2-year worry-free guarantee: if they break it, return it and we’ll replace it for free. No questions asked.
Unlimited, free access to 10,000 kid-friendly books, movies, TV shows, educational apps, and games with 1 year of Amazon FreeTime Unlimited included
Best-in-class parental controls allow you to manage usage limits, content access, and educational goals
It is easily imaginable that an inexpensive version of the Fire Phone aimed at parents buying their kids the first smartphone could have had at least been a starting point for Amazon in the mobile business: Make it Prime only. Give it parental controls. Give it a worry-free guarantee. Maybe bundle it with a specific cheap data plan from a partnering mobile carrier. Connect it to Amazon’s own mobile apps on other platforms for communicating and locating the phones. (the hypothetical ‘family network’ app suite)
In the end this is about starting to build a digital identity for its customers as early as possible. Prime family plans would be a far more efficient way of getting young adults into the Amazon ecosystem than, say, simple price segmentation like Amazon Prime for students could ever be. (Which isn’t to say the latter should go away, just that there are more sophisticated options.)
On the one hand you can say that it is fascinating that Amazon, which is building the biggest bundle in retail history, is just starting to add bundles for the family context. It took Amazon quite a long time for such a low hanging fruit. Maybe the people responsible for this are (rightly) a little bit daunted by the complexity of the endeavor?5
On the other hand you could say that this also means there is a lot of potential for Prime to grow (even in the US) and be even more of an important driver for Amazon than it already is. Prime could not only be the biggest factor in making power users use Amazon’s services as much as possible. Amazon Prime could also become a main driver in, and yes, I’m going to use this pun, ‘breeding’ the next wave of power users.
Also, being unique, there is not yet really anyone being able to compete with the whole Prime bundle. This may be one reason why Amazon is moving slowly into the family bundle business. There is no immediate need to rush.
And after all, once you have introduced something to your subscribers and added it to the bundle you can not easily take it away again without making them angry at you.
- People living at the same address. ↩
- That is one of the reasons US mobile broadband is expensive yet not very fast compared internationally. It is interesting that family plans play such a big role in the US mobile sector while they don’t in European countries. ↩
- Just don’t go higher than half of what Prime itself costs. Again, look at how family plan bundles look like in other markets. ↩
- It is a shame that Jet.com abandoned the membership fee early on without even trying. Create a strong family bundle and you might have a chance against Amazon Prime. In fact, this might have become the only remaining way in, at least in the US. And, as one can see, the window is, slowly but surely, closing. ↩
- Apple, for example, is moving almost as slowly as Amazon at the family front. ↩