An Open Letter to Amazon

AmazonMoney
Something Tells Me That Won’t Work

Dear Amazon,

Amazon Prime Video is having a big year! You launched 4K UHD streaming options, you’re beefing up your library and allowing for offline playback, and your original series Transparent made you the first streaming service to win a Golden Globe! The only problem is: despite being a Prime member since 2009, I didn’t get to enjoy any of this… You see, I prefer to watch my TV shows and movies on a TV, and my TV’s are equipped with Chromecasts and Android TVs. I know that I am not alone in my TV OS preference and by choosing to ignore this demographic you are in danger of losing at least one of your long-time customers.

Listen, I get your struggle. You don’t want to go through Apple and Google’s respective storefronts because then you would have to give them 30% of all of your on demand movie and tv sales. That is a hefty cut! You also don’t want to just give us access to your Prime Instant Video without the possibility of seeing that premium on demand content as well. That was the whole reason to include Prime Video in the subscription in the first place, right? But was starting this war really worth it? Let us take a look.

In order to get around paying Apple and Google a share of your profits, you decided to release your own media consumption tablet. This was a natural extension of your Kindle line and you got to offer your services for low prices. You sold this tablet at a loss because drawing customers into your ecosystem is the whole point of the Fire line.

“We want to make money when customers use our devices, not when they buy our devices.”

Again, this was a pretty smart strategy because you were undercutting the whole market at the time and getting a tablet in the hands of people who were not going to get an iPad. This was a holiday hit and extended your reach. But this is where I feel we made a wrong turn. Rather than keeping your Fire line an ultra cheap way to get more people to use your services, you seemed to think it was so good that it should be the only way that you should use your services. You went on to release more tablets, a phone, and a couple of TV devices. If you don’t own one of these Fire devices, you generally are not going to have the best experience with some of your services, or no service at all.

Amazon Prime video is currently missing on Android TV, Apple TV, and Chromecast. How can you ignore such a huge chunk of the living room? Expecting people to buy your FireTV line just to get access to your Prime Video service goes against your own ideology of the service being the product. Oh, and blocking competitor devices on Amazon is just shameful.

So again, I ask, “Was starting this war worth it?” I think not. Yes, having your own platform is great insurance against being abused by Apple and Android. But you spent millions on R&D to manufacture these devices. You spent millions on forking Android and developing your OS. You sell your products for a loss. All of this just to avoid a 30% cut on your on demand products? I am not an accountant but I can’t imagine that it adds up. Oh, don’t forget your phone that lost $170 million. Amazon, if you truly want to be service first like you say, you need to stop this nonsense. You need to become ubiquitous and fast. You don’t have the library or exclusives to pull customers. Netflix is your direct competitor on this front and they are beating you because of this. I could go down to the corner store and buy the crappiest Blu-ray player they have and you can bet Netflix will be on that sucker. They also are consistently a launch partner for any new platform. I don’t have to think about subscribing to Netflix. I know whatever device I own, it will serve up Netflix. This should be your goal. As an Android user you have consistently made your service very difficult to get access to. It feels as though you forgot about us and so I have forgotten about you. After this holiday season I am officially cancelling my Prime membership and not looking back. I know that you will not feel this, but I just thought I owe you an explanation in case you have a change of heart.

 

Farewell,

Brian Stein

Brian Stein

Brian Stein is a Science Teacher with a love of technology. When he is not molding young minds, he is looking out for the latest and greatest gadgets. Devices: Moto X, G Watch, Nexus 7, Chromebook, Custom Plex Server

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