Amazon Prime service could be coming to India this year

Amazon India users could have some good news in 2015 as the company could introduce its premium Amazon Prime service subscription in the country.

Amazon India users could have some good news in 2015 as the company could introduce its premium Amazon Prime service subscription in the country, says a report in Economic Times.

According to the ET report, which quotes sources, Amazon India "has tasked Nitesh Kripalani, former executive vice president at Multi Screen Media — which runs Sony Entertainment Channels — to get access to 'digital content' and the company is expected to start negotiations with Indian media houses including Yash Raj Films and Eros International.

One exec who is quoted in the report said that it was difficult to confirm by when the service would come to India but added that "slow Internet speeds," remains one of the biggest problems in India and that Amazon is likely to adopt the "streaming" option for users.

So what all does Amazon Prime offer in the US? For starters it's a $99 per year membership (which is around Rs 6,232 in today's exchange rate) that offers users two-day standard shipping, access to movies and TV shows for free, access to Music which was introduced last year, access to some exclusive video series, although none of its shows have matched the intensity of Netflix exclusives like says House of Cards. Amazon's Instant Videos can be played across a variety of devices, including Kindle, Android, iOS and even television sets.

It also comes with access to eBooks which you can borrow for a month if you have a Kindle tablet or reader, although you get to choose four books to own, even if you don't own a Kindle. Sadly as this review had pointed out however, the collection isn't too wide. There are also kid-friendly apps, books and video for a set monthly price, and Prime Members get some off on the pricing.

Essentially the biggest plus is the movie and tv show access for Indian users. Remember Google Play and iTunes offers movies and music but you can't stream it for free. Also the choice of movies isn't too varied on Google Play and iTunes, thought the latter has undoubtedly one of the best music collections. Again you have to pay to download each song on iTunes.

So will Amazon Prime be a game-changer once it comes to India? If the service costs Rs 6,232 a year, it might still be considered as too high a price for some users. Plus with streaming the options will remain limited to those who have high-speed Internet and that's not always possible in India.

Then, of course the kind of content that is offered for free will make a lot of difference. If Amazon Prime's free videos are similar to what Apple and Google Play are already offering, then it won't really appeal to a lot of Indian users as they won't be getting access to anything new.

Of course a lot will depend on if and when the service comes to India. According to the ET report, this should be sometime in the course of this year. For other e-commerce rivals like Snapdeal and Flipkart (which tried selling music via Flyte but that failed), Amazon Prime service coming to India will only make the competition tougher.

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