Ever since the Fire Phone flop, everyone has been waiting to see if Amazon would return to the phone business.
Those expecting to see Fire Phone 2 will have to wait (potentially forever), but that doesn't mean Amazon is giving up entirely. The online merchant remains a big seller of other manufacturers' phones.
Now the company is trying to see if it can leverage that strength into a broader presence for its apps and services.
Starting Wednesday, Amazon is offering Prime members a $50 discount on two unlocked phone models, provided they agree to view lock-screen ads similar to those already shown on Fire tablets and Kindle book readers.
Unlike the Fire Phone, which used Amazon services in place of Google, these two phones (the fourth-generation Moto G and Blu R1 HD) will include all the standard Google apps (Play Store, YouTube, Gmail, Chrome, etc.) along with Amazon apps for shopping, watching video and playing music.
With the discount, the Blu phone will sell for just $49, while the price of the Moto G drops to $149. (Update: Amazon says that for a limited time it is bumping the Moto G discount to $75, making the phone $124.)
The move is clearly a modest one but could at some point become more significant, particularly if Amazon is willing to strike deals with other hardware makers to include its apps and services.
Microsoft, for example, has aggressively courted Android phone makers and now has deals with more than 75 hardware makers to include Microsoft's mobile apps with their devices.