Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Amazon Prime Makes Receiving Content Sublime

I'm currently reading #1 bestseller Steve Jobs, an incredible book about the incredible man behind that incredible company. I will be writing more about it in the week ahead, but wanted to note one observation that emerges as one reads this story. So many of the great companies were the result of a visionary leader whose fingerprints are all over the products they produce. Steve Jobs' Apple is no different.

Another observation. In the internet age there have been real winners and losers, and the captains of industry in the digital age are fully aware of what's at stake in many of the battlefields where they duke it out with rivals. The computer's operating system was one of these battlefields, and Bill Gates was Steve Jobs' rival on that front.

In recent years another battlefield has emerged as regards how content would be delivered to our computers and portable devices. Apple's iStore is going head-to-head with Amazon and Barnes & Noble. The result for consumers of electronic media has been fast dropping prices and superfast upgrades to electronic devices that deliver books, music and video.

Many card games, from Bridge to Tripoli, involve a bidding war in order to name trump. Once trump is declared, the cards are played in accordance with this new situation. It's not enough to play your cards right but to have the power to declare whether the money cards will be clubs, diamonds, hearts or spades. Hence the backdrop for many of these digital wars. The visionaries saw the lay of the land (or rather, cyber-territories) long before most consumers even had an inkling of what was at stake.

Amazon's current game changer is Amazon Prime. Here's what Sam Biddle at Gizmodo has written about Amazon Prime.

Game Over: Amazon Prime Is Officially the Greatest Deal in Tech
Amazon's Prime service began as a way to get your books and deodorant shipped to your door faster. Which was nice. Now, it's turned into a cornucopia of digital everything: movies, TV, books.

And as it's grown, it's turned into something else: the smartest digital ticket around.

The four components of Amazon Prime are these.
1) FREE Two-Day Shipping on millions of items
2) No minimum order size
3) Unlimited instant streaming of thousands of movies and TV shows with Prime instant videos
4) A Kindle book to borrow for free each month from the Kindle Owners' Lending Library

O.K. what's the catch? The whole kit-and-kaboodle is yours for a flat fee of $79 a year. And the first month trial is free for anyone who likes the concept but is on the fence.

As a writer I like the concept so much that I'm making two of my own books, Newmanesque and The Breaking Point and Other Stories, available in the Amazon Prime lending library this week. Not that these $1.99 eBooks were expensive to begin with. (Thank you to new buyers and readers! Reviews always welcome.)

Will it be the game-changer Biddle suggests? Who knows? Google's attempts to steal the Facebook community with Google+ hasn't panned out as hoped. But Prime is just one of Jeff Bezos' current moves. Apple and Netflix will counter.

Meantime life goes on all around us. Have a great day.

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