Amazon Prime

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Amazon Prime
Amazon Prime Logo
Type of site
Subscription service
FoundedFebruary 2, 2005; 16 years ago (2005-02-02)
Area servedInternational
OwnerAmazon
IndustryInternet
RevenueIncrease $19.21 billion (2019)[1]
URLamazon.com/prime (US)
RegistrationRequired
UsersIncrease 200 million[2]
Current statusActive

Amazon Prime is a paid subscription program from Amazon which is available in various countries and gives users access to additional services otherwise unavailable or available at a premium to other Amazon customers. Services include same, one or two-day delivery of goods and streaming music, video, e-books, gaming and grocery shopping services. In April 2021, Amazon reported that Prime had more than 200 million subscribers worldwide.[2]

History[edit]

Early history[edit]

Amazon Prime electric delivery vans in north London

In 2005, Amazon announced Amazon Prime as a membership service offering free two-day shipping within the contiguous United States on all eligible purchases for an annual fee of $79 equivalent to £56.71 in pounds sterling (equivalent to $105 in 2020)[3] and discounted one-day shipping rates.[4] Amazon launched the program in Germany, Japan and the United Kingdom in 2007; in France (as "Amazon Premium") in 2008, in Italy in 2011, in Canada in 2013,[5] in India in July 2016[6] Mexico in March 2017,[7] Turkey in September 2020.[8] As of January 2020, there are Prime members in 17 countries in North America, Europe and Asia-Pacific.[9]

2012–2016[edit]

Amazon Prime membership in Australia, Canada, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom, India, and the United States includes Amazon Video,[10] the instant streaming of selected films and TV programs at no additional cost.[11] In November 2011, it was announced that Prime members had access to the Kindle Owners' Lending Library, which allows users to borrow up to one a month of specified popular Kindle e-books.[12] People with an email address at an academic domain such as .edu or .ac.uk, typically students, are eligible for Prime Student privileges, including discounts on Prime membership.[13]

In March 2014, Amazon increased the annual US membership fee for Amazon Prime from $79 to $99.[3][14] Shortly after this change, Amazon announced Prime Music, providing unlimited, ad-free music streaming.[15] In November 2014, Amazon added Prime Photos, adding unlimited storage of files deemed to be photographs in the users' Amazon Drive.[16][17][18] Amazon began offering free same-day delivery to Prime members in 14 United States metropolitan areas in May 2015.[19] In April 2015, Amazon started a trial partnership with Audi and DHL in order to deliver directly into the trunks of Audi cars, available in the Munich, Germany area to some Audi-connected car users.[20]

In December 2015, Amazon stated that "tens of millions" of people were Amazon Prime members.[21] Amazon Prime added 3 million members during the third week of December 2015.[22] That month Amazon announced the creation of the Streaming Partners Program,[23] a subscription service that provides Amazon Prime subscribers with additional streaming video services. Among the programming providers involved in the program are Showtime, Starz. Lifetime Movie Club (containing recent original movie titles from Lifetime Television and Lifetime Movie Network), Smithsonian Earth, and Qello Concerts.

2016–2020[edit]

In January 2016, Amazon Prime reached 54 million members according to a report from Consumer Intelligence Research Partners.[24] Several reports in January 2016 said that nearly half of all U.S. households were members of Amazon Prime at that time.[25]

In April 2016, Amazon announced same-day delivery would be expanded to include the areas of Charlotte, Cincinnati, Fresno, Louisville, Milwaukee, Nashville, Central New Jersey, Raleigh, Richmond, Sacramento, Stockton, and Tucson, bringing total coverage to 27 metro areas.[26][27]

In September 2016, Amazon launched a restaurant delivery service for Prime members in London, England, with free delivery on all orders over £15.[28]

In September 2016, Amazon subsidiary Twitch announced features available to users with an Amazon Prime subscription (Twitch Prime), including monthly offers of video games and add-on content, and the ability to purchase a free subscription to a user's channel once per-month.[29][30] Amazon then partnered with different game developers offering in-game loots as rewards to subscribers. Games included with the loot rewards were Apex Legends, Legends of Runeterra, FIFA Ultimate Team, Teamfight Tactics, Mobile Legends: Bang Bang, Doom Eternal, and more.[31]

In December 2016, Amazon began offering Prime membership for an alternative monthly, instead of yearly fee, of $10.99 per month,[32] increased to $12.99 in February 2018.[33] Amazon also announced Wickedly Prime, an own-brand line of food and beverages available to Prime members.[34]

Amazon announced Prime Wardrobe, a service that lets customers try on clothes before they pay, in June 2017.[35]

In 2017, Amazon announced the Prime Exclusive Phone program, which offers some smartphones displaying Amazon ads on the lock screen from companies including LG, Motorola and Nokia at a discount.[36]

In May 2018, Amazon increased the annual US Prime membership fee from $99 to $119.[37]

In June 2019, Amazon expanded their one-day delivery with Amazon Prime, stating that Prime Free One Day was available to U.S. members on more than 10 million products with no minimum purchase.[38]

On March 3, 2020, Amazon announced it installed "mini-fulfillment centers" in select U.S. cities, including Dallas, Orlando, Philadelphia, and Phoenix to reduce same-day delivery times.[39]

Later the same month, during the COVID-19 pandemic, Prime express delivery dates for various in-stock items reached delays of up to a month in the US instead of the usual 1–2 days, as Amazon struggled to meet exceptional demand and announced it would prioritize the most essential items.[40]

By the end of 2020, Amazon Prime Pantry had been discontinued in all locations.[41]

Sub-brands[edit]

Prime Music[edit]

Prime Music is a music streaming service similar to Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube Music and others, which is available to Prime members at no extra cost. Amazon offers a separate subscription service with a much larger music catalog called Amazon Music Unlimited, which costs $7.99 per month for Prime members and $9.99 per month for others.[42]

Prime Video and Prime Gaming[edit]

The service debuted on September 7, 2006, as Amazon Unbox in the United States. On September 4, 2008, the service was renamed Amazon Video on Demand. The Unbox name still refers to the local program, which as of August 2014 is no longer available for downloading purchased instant videos. On February 22, 2011, the service rebranded as Amazon Instant Video.

Amazon re-branded its Twitch Prime to Amazon Prime Gaming.[43] Now, Amazon Prime or Prime Video subscribers also get Twitch Prime (now Prime Gaming) at no additional cost.[44] Prime gaming subscribers can redeem various rewards in external video games such as digital loot, currency or cosmetics that would typically cost money or are exclusive. Additionally, Prime Gaming allows for a free paid subscription to one Twitch partner per month.

Prime Reading[edit]

Beginning in October 2016, Prime members in the U.S. receive access to a rotating set of Kindle e-books through Prime Reading.[45] Some magazines and travel guides are also available through the service.[46] Prime Reading is unrelated to the Kindle Owners Lending Library, Kindle Unlimited, and Kindle First, all of which continue to be available.[47]

Prime Pantry[edit]

Amazon Prime Pantry was a service of Amazon.com available only to Prime members that packaged everyday (non-bulk) non-perishable grocery store items into a single box for delivery for a flat fee. The service was available in the United States, Austria, France, Germany, India,[48] Italy, Japan, Spain, and the United Kingdom. Amazon discontinued the program in different locations on different dates, making the items formerly found exclusively in Prime Pantry available for purchase in the main store. By the end of 2020 the service had been discontinued in all locations.[49]

In the US, the service was available only to customers with Amazon Prime membership to order up to 45 pounds in weight or up to 4 cubic feet of dry goods and non-perishable groceries for a flat delivery fee, although initially there had been no delivery charge.[50]

An ever-changing but limited variety of products was offered, but the range actually decreased from when the service was first launched. While selecting items within the Prime Pantry program, each item listed the percentage of space it will take up inside the delivery box. A running total showed how full this box is. The delivery fee remained the same regardless of the filling percentage.[51]

In the United Kingdom, Amazon signed a deal with the British supermarket chain Morrisons to provide supplies for Pantry and Fresh.[52]

Delivery was within a set time period. An email alerted customers of their delivery date.[citation needed]

In India, Pantry was made available in three cities before being expanded to 10,000 PIN codes prior to the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown.[53]

Prime Now[edit]

In December 2014, Amazon announced that as a benefit to Prime members located in parts of Manhattan and New York City the capability to get products delivered to them within one hour for a fee of $7.99, or within two hours for no additional fee. As of 2014, 25,000 daily essential products were available with this delivery service.[54] In February 2015, the service was extended to include all of Manhattan.[55] By mid-2016, it had been expanded in the United States to include parts of Chicago, Miami, Baltimore,[56] Seattle, Dallas, Atlanta, Austin, Nashville, Portland, San Antonio, and Tampa.[57][58][59] Outside of the United States, it has expanded to parts of the United Kingdom,[60] Italy,[61] Germany,[62] France,[63] Spain,[64] Japan,[65] and Singapore.[66] To meet the on-demand needs of Prime Now, Amazon further launched Amazon Flex, a platform for independent contractors to provide delivery services.[67]

Amazon Key[edit]

In-Home
In October 2017, Amazon.com added an option for Prime members to get in-home deliveries by its Amazon Flex contractors, who gain entry using a one-time code.[68] The service, Amazon Key, became available for customers residing in 37 United States metro areas in April 2018.[69][70] As of 2018 the service required a Kwikset or Yale smart lock and a special version of Amazon's Cloud Cam security camera.[71]

Customers are given a time window of four hours for the package to be delivered. Once the courier opens the door, the Cloud Cam records a clip until the door is locked, which is sent to the customer's smartphone.[72] Participants in the service can also use the Amazon Key companion app for iOS and Android to lock and unlock the door, monitor the camera, and issue virtual keys.[73]

A month after the service was launched, a security expert found a flaw, since patched, in the system which would freeze the camera and stop image transmission.[74]

In-Car
Amazon Key In-Car is a service allowing owners of vehicles with OnStar (that are 2015+ models) or Volvo on Call, to get packages delivered in their vehicle's trunk.[75] The service is available in the same areas as Amazon Key's In-Home delivery, but requires no additional hardware.[76] Customers are provided with a four-hour delivery window.[77] During that time, their vehicle must be located in a publicly accessible area.[78]

In-Garage
At CES 2019, Amazon announced a partnership with the Chamberlain Group, allowing packages to be placed in customers garages with myQ-enabled openers, as part of the Key service.[79]

Prime Air[edit]

60 Minutes announced on December 1, 2013 that Amazon Prime Air was a possible future delivery service expected to be in development for several more years. In concept, the process would use drones to deliver small packages (less than five pounds) within 30 minutes by flying short distances (10–20 km) from local Amazon Fulfillment Centers.[80][81] In the United States, the project will require the Federal Aviation Administration to approve commercial use of unmanned drones.[82]

In July 2014, it was revealed the company was developing its 8th and 9th drone prototypes, some that could fly 50 miles an hour and carry 5-pound packages, and had applied to the FAA to test them.[83] The project is not yet in flight as of January 2021, though Amazon did receive FAA approval in the US in August 2020.[84]

Prime Day[edit]

On July 15, 2015, to commemorate the website's 20th anniversary, Amazon held its first Prime Day. The event is characterized by a number of sales and promotions exclusive to Amazon Prime subscribers, with Amazon initially promoting that it would feature "more deals than Black Friday".[85] The inaugural Prime Day faced criticism over the quality of the discounts offered, with many of them being tied to items not in high demand. Some users jokingly described the event as a "yard sale", and Walmart also countered the event with a promotional blog post arguing that customers "shouldn't have to pay $100 to find great deals". Amazon defended criticism of the event, noting that order volume on the website had "surpassed" Black Friday sales in 2014.[86][87][88][89][90] That same month, Amazon Prime announced[91] it signed up Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, and James May, formerly of BBC's Top Gear, to begin working on The Grand Tour for Amazon Prime Video, which was released in 2016.

On July 13, 2016, Amazon Prime said customers placed 60 percent more orders worldwide on "Prime Day".[92] The 2018 edition was preceded by a concert event headlined by Ariana Grande, and streamed on Amazon Video and Twitch.[93] The 2019 concert was held on July 10 ahead of Prime Day starting on July 15, and streamed exclusively for Prime subscribers, featuring Taylor Swift, Dua Lipa, Becky G, and SZA.[94][95][96]

In 2018, Prime Day first became tied to protests of Amazon and employee strikes due to the treatment of workers at its fulfillment centers. Supporters of these actions have urged boycotts of Amazon during Prime Day as solidarity, covering all services provided by the company and its subsidiaries.[97][98][99][100]

In 2020, Prime Day was postponed in the US due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and was held from October 13–14. In Canada, Prime Day 2020 was postponed to October 13–14. Prime Day was held in India on August 6–7.[101]

In May 2021, Prime Day was postponed indefinitely in Canada due to COVID-19.[102]

Availability[edit]

As of January 2021, Prime memberships are available in 20 countries: Austria, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Mexico, the Netherlands, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Spain, Turkey, the UK, and the US.[103] Prime membership may also be available in further locations; however, due to differing (usually higher) delivery costs, customs and import restrictions, as well as copyright and broadcasting rights issues, the benefits to customers in these locations are heavily limited. An example of such a situation is true for Amazon customers located in Switzerland and Liechtenstein. Amazon Prime subscriptions from neighbouring countries are available.[citation needed]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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