ACG Research

ACG Research
We focus on the Why before the What

Friday, September 30, 2011

Amazon Lights a Fire and Their Competitors Are Hopping

I like what Amazon is doing with their new Kindle Fire. Everyone likes new hardware and last year’s Kindle is so “yesterday.” There was a very interesting quote from Jeff Bezos that bares further exploration. He was talking about one of the reasons other tablet manufactures have not succeeded in the marketplace, and he thinks it is “because they built tablets instead of services.” Think about that for a moment. Why have Google and Facebook exploded onto the high-tech scene? It’s about content or in Amazon’s case serving the content appetite of the masses. Remember net neutrality debates? The service providers thought the content providers were getting a free ride on their networks. The last time I checked, I pay for my broadband at home and I know the content providers pay for their “pipes.” Who is getting what for free?

Traditional service providers are sitting on incredible assets. They have data centers; they have “pipes”; they sell managed services; they have call centers, billing systems and skilled employees. They invented data centers formerly called center offices or COs. So what gives? Why can’t the service providers compete with Amazon or Google? They have the potential to be content kings. I say it’s because the largess within their operations. The leadership recognizes it and understands that it is better to slowly turn the crank and not make any waves. The leadership has the will but they lack support from the rank and file because of their sheer size. I remember when SBC heralded the news that it was going to introduce a video on demand service. After years of efforts and supposedly billions of dollars of investment, can I download a video from AT&T? Sure, five years after I could from YouTube. There is very little internal creativity within the service provider market. They move too slowly, and they rarely innovate anything. At one time service providers were the true communications innovators. What happened? Today, if they see an emerging trend, they buy into a market. So what you get is a large, desperate organization with very little synergy between it parts.

If just one of the service providers could think outside their box for a moment, like Amazon, they could step out of the commodity business of providing wired and wireless “pipes” and move into content services. Think about some of the innovations that Amazon has done. They wanted to make buying over the Internet efficient so they built a better mousetrap and patented a shopping cart process. Then, due to their success in selling stuff online, they had to build massive distribution centers and data centers to support their growth. Low and behold, Amazon was one of the most influential innovators in cloud computing. No one thought people would want to read a book or the newspaper on a Kindle. I see people using them every time I go through an airport. Millions have been sold. Now, they Amazon has completely rethought the browser and have introduced Silk as an innovation that has the potential to solve some very practical issues with mobile computing. I love it.

In the movie “The Graduate” a character gives Dustin Hoffman one word for the future, “plastics.” Today, the word for the future is “content.”

Marshall Bartoszek

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