Every week, Ken Whittaker, Director of Engineering, and Neal Cook, Director of Support at Front Rush, review recent tech news, offering analysis and banter about changes in tech.
Ken: Hey Neal! Numbers for our last blog were off the charts – actually – we have no idea, but let’s just pretend they were! This time we’re going to tackle the biggest event of the week – Amazon’s Prime Day. Towards the end, we’ll touch on a topic you previously blogged about regarding Net Neutrality, as that was back in the news as well.
Neal: Bonjour, Ken! That blog was definitely off the charts; my phone has been off the hook with interview requests. We’re going to have take this one down a notch. Let’s get rockin!
Ken: Alright, so if you touched any electronic device this week – you probably heard, saw, or read something about “Prime Day.” The media outlets reported on it, Amazon’s competitors responded to it in one way or another, and you may have already started to see the cardboard pile up. A few years ago, Amazon started Prime Day to give it’s Prime users access to great deals. There was some criticism by those that said this was just a way for Amazon to clear the warehouse of items that didn’t sell. While that may be true, we can’t overlook its success.
Neal: I think most people were underwhelmed with the deals this year. I was able to score a 23andME DNA/Health/Ancestry test for $99 bucks instead of $200, that’s been on my wishlist for awhile. I tried to stay away from the rest of the deals, it’s very easy to be pressured online with discounted goods. Amazon absolutely dominates the e-commerce industry, one of the reasons why is there “aggressive pricing strategy.” They have so much data on you and I that they can predict the ideal price for every item. So, the pair of shoes you see for $78 might be $77.98 for me (or vice-versa). You can clearly see this when the items are priced at $12.79 or $13.60. Forgive me if I’m wrong, but I’m pretty sure Amazon’s pricing strategy used to be more of a fixed price for most of the goods.
Ken: I browsed a little but didn’t make any purchases on Prime Day this year. One thing that often gets overlooked is that this event is for Prime Members. While there are free trials available to new users, an Amazon Prime account generally costs $99/year or $9.99 monthly. That alone is a massive boost to Amazon. Even those that sign up, think they can get the deals for Prime Day, and then cancel might not end up following through with the last part. And you’re absolutely right, Amazon has been able to dominate the e-commerce industry for years. I’m not too sure on the fixed price – but fluctuating pricing is just a simple example of supply and demand. It’s easier to change the price of an item for 1 hour only, then it is to have employees run around and change signs for door buster or flash sales.
Neal: I’m curious to know what metrics Amazon used to track whether or not the day was a success. On to net neutrality news, July 12th was ‘net neutrality’ day, prominent tech companies such as Google, Facebook, Amazon and Netflix all showed their support for net neutrality in one way or another. Net neutrality is the basic principle that your Internet Service Providers (ISPs) should never block or limit sites, regardless of the source. Tim-Berners-Lee, who invented the world-wide-web in 1989, said it best in this 44 second video, saying “If we lost net neutrality, we lose the internet as we know it”. My question to you Ken, do you think the cable lobbyists will get their way and reverse net neutrality?
Ken: This is a tricky one. Obviously, the world-wide-web is not even close to as primitive as it was in 1989. I don’t think Mr. Berners-Lee could have predicted the scale at which applications be built, but there’s no doubt in my mind he knew it would be huge. The problem the ISPs are faced with is – the internet is too good. Cord cutters opt not to pay for a cable subscription, because they can pay another service – such as Sling, YouTube TV, Hulu, etc. for live television channels. Of course, cable has the upper hand right now in terms of number of channels and content…but for people that only sit down to watch a specific show or channel, they don’t need all the fluff. Fast internet with the ability to stream the shows they want is the obvious option. The idea of packages and upgrades then goes away, somewhat. As content providers come up with their own free apps (getting revenue from advertisers) – ISPs are looking for an alternative. Yesterday I saw something interesting that hadn’t occurred to me before. A popular deal site Slickdeals had a posting where they put all of this in perspective. What if your ISP blocked access to content in a similar way Cable companies block access to TV channels? That part of Net Neutrality is scary, and I think will be a hard battle for these companies to overcome anytime soon.
Neal: Scary stuff there Ken, we need to start being more cheery. Let’s talk about unicorns next week. You are right about the cord-cutters, in news many saw coming, there are now more Netflix subscribers (50.9 million) than the total subscribers for the top cable companies (48.6 million). To your point, you can see how this scares the living s*** out of them. What scares me more is someone telling me what I can and cannot do online. We shall see how the next few months pan out. As a concerned citizen, you can go to https://www.fcc.gov/ecfs/filings/express, enter the number 17-108 in the proceeding field, and let the FCC know you want to keep the internet open.
That about wraps it up for this week. It’s been a pleasure, Ken. Once those DNA results come back I’ll be sure to share with you, hoping there’s some magic in my blood. See you next week!
Ken: Haha, great! See you next week!