Andrew Ducker (andrewducker) wrote,
Andrew Ducker

Amazon, Video, WhatsApp, Voice - a couple of thoughts on recent tech news.

I feel really conflicted by Amazon's recent announcement that they are wrapping up LoveFilm* as part of Amazon Prime. Amazon Prime's price is going up at the same time, to£79, but when you consider that Netflix is £6/month, that's basically £7 for free shipping for the year. That's an amazing deal.

There are two problems here:
1) I already have Netflix and Prime, so either I drop Netflix or I'm paying £72/year for access to the few things that Netflix has that Lovefilm doesn't.
2) This is awful news for anyone trying to enter the market - Amazon Prime is popular with exactly the kind of people who are happy to fork over cash for streaming video. By tying the two together they're effectively leveraging a monopoly in one area into another arena. If you already have Amazon Prime then the chances of you signing up for another streaming video service is very slim unless it offers something that Amazon can't get its hands on.

The other thing that's been big news this week is the WhatsApp deal. I don't really see how they're going to make that much cash out of it, and I think that trying to will cause all of the users to run away to competitors, *as 5m of them already have. I am intrigued to see that people are still trying to make money out of messaging services. It's clearly possible to make _some_ money from messaging - ICQ** made $28MM in 2008 - but it looks like it's possible to make somewhere between 1 and 2 dollars per year per user out of IM, either through advertising or a very low charge. When Microsoft bought Skype at $13/user people thought they'd gone mad - WhatsApp (which does far less) was bought for about $42/user. How, exactly, they plan to make that out of people who have chosen to sign up for a messaging platform _because_ SMS was too expensive for them, I don't know.

I _do_ find it interesting that WhatsApp have announced plans for voice chat - with the number of cheap audio apps out there it's hard to see how phone companies are going to make much money out of phone calls at all.

What's missing here is, of course, an open standard for connecting users together. WhatsApp users can only message other WhatsApp users, Skype users can only talk to other Skype users. The internet is very-much a series of walled gardens, rather than an open space - I suspect that if email was invented now you woildn't be able to send emails to people on a different server. This saddens me, but as the vast majority of users have shown that they aren't interested in paying for services if they can get them for "free" I don't see that changing soon.

*A UK Netflix equivalent that Amazon bought in 2011.
**Now _seventeen_ years old. WTF?

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