Amazon is increasingly looking to strike partnerships with mobile operators to grow Prime Video, Prime Music and other media subscription services abroad.
The company may even launch a dedicated product dubbed Amazon Fuse for mobile operators, Variety has learned after reviewing multiple job postings and other documents. An Amazon spokesperson declined to comment.
Indications that Amazon is working on such product first surfaced when the company applied for a trademark for Amazon Fuse about a month ago. That trademark application describes Fuse as related to the transmission of entertainment services, including audio and video content, over the internet and mobile networks.
It’s worth noting that trademark applications like these are typically vague, mentioning dozens of possible use cases that may not have much to do with the eventual product. However, Amazon went on to spell out its plans for Fuse a bit more clearly in a job ad for a software development engineer two weeks ago, which includes the following section:
“Amazon Fuse is a newly launched product and team at Amazon. Amazon Fuse enables international partners to offer Amazon subscription services to their customers. This provides Amazon with expanded customer reach and international distribution. The Fuse business is primarily working with mobile operators across the globe to bring Prime Video, Music, Kindle, and Prime to hundreds of millions of customers.”
Amazon has worked on striking partnerships with mobile operators to grow its business overseas for some time. In one such deal, it partnered with Vodafone to give customers of Vodafone India a discount on Prime and Prime Video. With that discount, Vodafone India customers effectively pay less than $8 per year for Prime Video and free Prime shipping. As a comparison, Netflix charges Indian customers the same amount per month for its cheapest plan.
Additional job offers show that Amazon is looking to strike similar deals in Japan, Europe, the Middle East and Africa. In one of these job offers, Amazon specifically mentions a focus on Amazon Video and Amazon Music alongside its shopping services. Another job offer mentions that the team responsible for striking partnerships is “in growth mode, currently expanding our footprint with our service offerings, B2B tools, and actual partnerships at a rapid pace.”
A source with knowledge of the European mobile media market wasn’t aware of Fuse in particular, but told Variety that the company had aggressively pursued partnerships with operators over the past ten months, initially pushing mobile operators to carry its Echo speaker in their stores. However, without much of a mobile tie-in, interest in that proposition was lukewarm. Fuse could be a way to respond with a stronger focus on mobile, the source suggested.
At this point, it’s unclear what Fuse is exactly going to entail. However, it’s possible that the product will be a quite literal value proposition for operators, allowing them to fuse their own offerings with Amazon’s media services, with the added benefit of a revenue share for new subscribers.
There’s also a chance that it will offer mobile operators tools to to run some of their own services, perhaps alongside Amazon’s media services. To that end, the Fuse patent specifically mentions tie-ins for third-party services through “software as a service (SAAS) services and software platform as a service (PAAS) services; providing online facilities enabling the sale of third-party content subscription services.”
Whatever it ends up to be, Amazon clearly has big plans for Fuse. From the aforementioned job offer:
“The Fuse team is seeking an experienced software development engineer to contribute to the development of a new system that will be used by multiple Amazon businesses through dozens of international markets.”