So, Amazon‘s mobile app armada is soon maybe going to get some strong-ish reinforcements.
Amazon has begun surveying customers about a new messaging service to gauge which features are most important to users. It’s unclear how far along the new service is, but one customer said the survey seemed to imply it was a ready product. […]
Based on the images I’ve been provided, Anytime by Amazon seems to be an all-in-one feature rich service that could even rival social networks. The focus seems to be messaging, including voice and video calls, but there’s also mention of photo sharing with @mentions, as well as filters for photos and video with “special effects and masks.” Anytime will also provide tasks that can be done in groups, like playing games, listening to music, and ordering food.
The service claims to keep chats private and allows users to “encrypt important messages like bank account details.” That’s especially important because the service will also allow users to chat with businesses, make reservations, and of course, since this is from Amazon, allow users to shop. […]
There’s no indication how far along the service is or when we could expect it to launch.
Amazon is already building several messaging / social networking services: Earlier this year, Amazon launched Chime, an online meetings and video conferencing service. Amazon also recently added voice calling and messaging features to its Alexa platform (Echo devices and mobile app). Twitch Pulse could turn into Amazon‘s Twitter alternative pretty fast.
‚Anytime‘ appears to be more ambitious. The new messaging app could also be the glue that will hold all this together. Given Amazon‘s API/microservices approach overall, it makes a lot of sense that those related services would be incorporated somewhere together. Even if not, that is still a lot of social networking initiatives at Amazon right now.
All in all, something is brewing here.
What are the chances: We don‘t know much at this point. The features list above sounds ridiculous, though. It makes little sense to build out features without knowing how to break through. Today, every region has a mobile messaging market leader which covers most of that market‘s mobile users. Breaking through is really hard here. Everyday usage creates strong inertia. The Google approach -‚cool features!‘- doesn‘t work. The Snapchat approach works tough -finding a tiny use case niche and fill it, and then, and only then, starting to go ‚upstream‘, so to speak-.
Amazon, potentially, has this tiny use case you can‘t find anywhere else: Easy and frictionless messaging via voice over your Echo devices. Making this functionality available in the mobile Alexa app as well shows that Amazon understands what such a network needs.
Still, just because one can imagine an opening here doesn‘t mean Amazon can successfully leverage that. If there is anyone who could break through in the messaging market today as a new entrant, Amazon has the best shot. But the cards are still stacked against them.
The potential: Don‘t look at Facebook Messenger and Whatsapp to get a sense of what Amazon could build here. Look instead at China‘s WeChat. WeChat has become the operating system for almost all matters of life for many of its users. E-commerce and offline commerce transactions follow suit. (It is also WeChat that showed Amazon and others that you don‘t need to own the OS to own the most important mobile platform for your users.)
But again, the chances are not high for this to work out. Even the best case scenario sees several years until this has a meaningful impact. Amazon needs patience and a genuinely smart lever to kickstart the social network. Alexa and the Echo device family (and many more third-party Alexa devices) might be that.
But still, Amazon‘s Fire Phone failed spectacularly. Amazon was simply to late. For slightly different reasons (not indirect but direct network effects in this case), Amazon is very late, maybe too late, for messaging as well.
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