Amazon Prime is a pretty good deal if you're in it for the year's worth of free shipping. The service has become much more than that, however, in the years since its inception. Now Amazon Prime throws in Amazon Instant Video and the massive Kindle Owners' Lending Library. The service is tempting, but the $79/year price tag may not be justifiable to the family on a budget.
Amazon has apparently realized that Prime may be too much for some consumers, and is now offering a "cheaper" $7.99/ month option. Hacking Netflix reports that the new $7.99 option is showing up on some consumer's Prime sign-up page. I'm already a Prime subscriber, but I signed out to see if the new price showed up.
The new price showed up for me, but it's reportedly not showing up for everybody just yet. One report from Gigaom even said that the new pricing option only showed up in a particular browser, while it wasn't showing up in another.
It's not clear if this is a new permanent pricing option, or just a test. We've reached out to Amazon for comment and we'll update if we hear back. For now, we can only speculate as to what it means.
It's pretty obvious that the new pricing option would allow Amazon to better compete with other streaming services like Netflix and Hulu Plus. Amazon Instant Video has a pretty good selection of titles, but it's the other services on offer that may bring in subscribers. The Kindle Lending Library and free two-day shipping may just convince Netflix and Hulu subscribers to switch, especially if they frequently buy products from Amazon.
All of this is just speculation for now though. We won't know anything until Amazon clarifies the new pricing scheme.