"They want to lock everyone into everything, just like everyone else."


Maybe the reason Prime economics have become tricky is because Amazon bundled in a video service nobody wants since 2011, leveraging one business' extreme success to juice the numbers of one that's faring poorly against its competitors. Netflix charges $95.88 per year for a similar service. How much of Prime's price hike was really to help pay for the video service that's just a tax on Prime members who have never used it and don't want it?

This isn't just an Amazon problem. In the last few years, Google, Apple, Amazon, Facebook, and Twitter have all made huge attempts to move into major parts of each others' businesses, usually at the detriment of their customers or users.

Google, the geek world's undeserved, unquestioned darling for well over a decade, has made all of its core products worse by forcefully shoving Google+ into them. They're leveraging extreme success from some businesses (search, email, maps) to juice the numbers of one that's faring poorly against its competitors (Google+). Sound familiar?

Apple's Maps is still worse and has fewer features than Google Maps, which was previously integrated better into the iPhone and didn't enable as much Google tracking creepiness. Not anymore. (Although I think the fault of this is shared between Apple and Google.) Many of Apple's other applications and services have suffered as well as they've spread themselves too thinly and competed on more fronts.

The battle between Twitter and Facebook has made both products worse and caused weird restrictions to users on both sides, such as the walls both companies have installed between Twitter and Instagram. Twitter is now ultra-paranoid, defensive, aggressive, and full of annoying ads. Facebook's core product is a mess as it continually tries (and fails) to capture the usage and style of Twitter, while annoying people more and more to keep its ads effective. (At least Facebook is consistent: they've always been getting worse.)

Amazon making its retail business worse to prop up another part of its ecosystem shouldn't be a surprise to anyone. Amazon doesn't want you to be only a retail customer anymore, and they'll keep making it harder to be.

They want to lock everyone into everything. Just like everyone else. And we're all worse off for it.

Previously, previously, previously, previously, previously.

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9 Responses:

  1. Nick Lamb says:

    Hypothesis: All corporations want to be Weyland-Yutani. This seems to be working out almost exactly as well as could be expected on that basis.

  2. On the one hand, this seems like an overblown response to what is, as he admits up front, the first price increase to an extremely popular service in eight years.

    On the other hand... it's not like he's wrong about any of it.

  3. gryazi says:

    The weird thing is that the video service used to be the excuse to bother with it - but when I checked this year, I discovered the selection had shrunk to "worst of Hulu"/"worse than what Roku will give you for free." And if you've actually stumped for a Roku - lots of B-movies and other things in the long tail of extended copyrights, very little much-else until you're paying for Netflix or a competitor anyway.

    (And none of that unless you have broadband from a service that's going to try to throw in TV for an extra $20, but Netflix does limp along acceptably on 1.5mbit AT&T DSL up here.)

    • Elusis says:

      FWIW we're watching S7 Doctor Who via Prime b/c Netflix doesn't have it. Did the same for S4 Justified and, IIRC, S7 Burn Notice.


      • gryazi says:

        For the record - On this side of the country that's one thing that's already been on broadcast TV and one thing that will inevitably be in reruns on PBS for three decades sooner or later because the presence of British accents = Culture. (They already picked up Sherlock.) Hadn't heard of Justified before and that's FX, so just saying your particular short list gives only a 33% argument for "cord cutting" if that were even physically possible.

        (I agree that on-demand is nice though, since I'm sitting here with cable c/o landlords and the only reason I watch anything is because I got family Netflix for Christmas and there's the unused second viewing slot.)

  4. I previously had a friends and family Prime account that was mysteriously dropped shortly before this announcement. I wonder if others were, too.

    Not that I care that much, but it did make me wonder if I wanted to pay for it. Answer, after looking at my past two year's worth of orders: not worth it. I remember playing with the video options and not being impressed, and am fine with Netflix. (Although I admit I'm easy - when I use it I'm almost never looking for something specific, just looking for something to turn my brain off for a bit.)

    Add in my bleeding heart tendencies that make me think of heat-stroking temp workers in warehouses when I click 'Order' now and, well, that $100 can help cover the markup local businesses with actual storefronts have to charge.

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