If you’ve been on the fence about whether to purchase Amazon’s (S AMZN) Fire TV, check your email: Amazon is sending out emails which allow customers to try a Fire TV set-top box for 30 days before paying.
It’s an unusual promotion for Amazon, which previously has never allowed customers to try a product at home before buying it. In fact, I can’t think of another tech company that has tried a similar tactic for hardware — even the Google Glass trial program sent prospective customers nonfunctional dummy units — although the “try-before-you-buy” marketing strategy is pervasive in a lot of other industries.
Here’s how it works: if you get the email, Amazon will ship a Fire TV to you without charging your credit card, which has to be on file with your Amazon account, naturally. If you like it and keep it past the 30-day window, Amazon will bill you the $100 for the device. If you send it back, you won’t see any damage on your credit card statement. In fact, this program isn’t a huge difference from buying a Fire TV, deciding to return it before the existing customary 30-day return window for Amazon hardware closes, and receiving a refund. The salient difference with this program is that customers won’t get charged up-front, but rather are paying at the end of the trial period.
This promotion is rigorously targeted. Although an invite was sent to my colleague Biz Carson, when I visited the link and logged in with my Amazon account, I received the message “We’re sorry, you are not eligible for this offer.” Amazon runs targeted promotions on a semi-regular basis, especially with its own hardware, usually under the banner “exclusively for you.” While it’s hard to decipher who the audience for this email is, we’ve heard that it is being sent to customers both with and without Prime subscriptions. Also note the email at the top of the post is visually different than the email sent to a Recode reporter.
Amazon launched Fire TV in April, and it had spotty availability for weeks after it went on sale. Amazon never breaks out hardware sales numbers, though, so its difficult to ascertain if it is in fact selling like gangbusters. It is currently #3 on Amazon’s Top 100 Electronics, behind Google’s(s goog) Chromecast. Fire TV streams over-the-top channels and displays them on a television, supporting major streaming services like Netflix and MLB.tv as well as Amazon’s homegrown Prime Streaming service.
If there is a feature that trial customers are likely to to be wowed by, it is Amazon’s Fire TV voice search. The promotion does not include a trial of Amazon’s $40 add-on gaming controller.
If you’d like to borrow a Fire TV from Amazon for a month, check your email, or visit this link — but be warned, there’s a good chance you’re not eligible.
Check out a first look at Amazon’s Fire TV below: