It has a really interesting theory about Amazon continually having virtually no profits or losses quarter after quarter after quarter despite having massive changes in the maturity of existing businesses and brand new, rapidly growing business. I had never given this aspect of Amazon any thought. I have a pretty orthodox growth perspective on Amazon: they are growing. They are growing as fast or faster than anything else I might put my money into. So I'm in no hurry to experience the massive tax consequences of getting out of Amazon in a big way and then finding something else to invest in. Instead, I have been, and will continue to for decades to come, slowly get out of Amazon -- I'll wrap up around the time the Zon's fearless leader and I are both ... old. I think of it as either a commitment to a very long roller coaster ride, or a bet on El Jefe. At any given moment, one or the other or both are true representations of my motives.
I so liked this article that I thought, hey, Andreesen Horowitz often as not produces completely hare-brained stuff. Who is this Benedict Evans and how consistent is his analysis?
This is nice. I think he oversells this point:
"If you tell the young people of today this they won’t believe you, but in the mid 1990s most people thought that mobile phones were an expensive niche product without mass-market potential. We already had phones, and pay phones, so why would you need this other thing?" But I was living in Seattle and working at Spry and Amazon during that time frame, so it makes sense that I'd feel like I was surrounded by people who took mobiles for granted -- even if most of the world was some years behind on the curve. I got so freakishly far out on the curve that I bought a Treo phone in the early 2000s. On road trips, I'd pull it out with my folding keyboard and ... where was I?
Okay. So Evans doesn't mention payments. The _first comment_ mentions payments. At the risk of flagellating a deceased equine, I'm going to do background now. We go to Disneyworld once or twice (this year three times) a year. The last few trips have involved Magic Bands, which are basically the wristband (waterproof and fairly durable) RFID equivalent of the Key to the World cards that people staying on property had grown accustomed to. They have profoundly influenced our experience of The World, both Disney and the regular old world we live in year round. Once upon a time, I didn't think of wallets as inconvenient, even though I often found my wallet inconvenient. I didn't think of payment cards as inconvenient, even thought I often found myself cursing how long it was taking to get one out or stuff it back into place, often with a paper receipt (btw: curse you paper receipts!). It didn't occur to me that the amount of time I spent waiting in line to pay, the amount of time I spent paying, then the amount of time I spent waiting for the goods (popcorn, a cold drink, merch, lunch) to be delivered -- those time frames have relationships to each other and those relationships are not Ordained By a Deity. Specifically, the mental tradeoff of whether or not to bother getting the merch or popcorn often depends on just how long it will take that line to move, in turn, depending heavily on time to complete payment. (Lunch is really interesting, because you can _see_ the change because the line no longer "fits" into the various elements of the queue -- the payments are processing that much faster vs. the kitchen.)
R. and I spent a bunch of time trying to figure out who could deploy wristband payments. It gnawed at me that it might be something that never got clear of resorts. This beautiful thing might be trapped like level loading public transport, because of costs that make no sense when you aren't on vacation. Then I thought, Apple! Apple could Make This Happen. But for all the talk of a coming Watch, and for all that there were watches and NFC phones and cases and etc. already in existence, no one seemed at all interested in making it possible for me to pay by holding my wrist next to a terminal.
Which is irritating. Every person I _KNOW_ has misplaced card or a wallet or something, at some point in their life. If it was _strapped to your wrist_, that would be a lot harder to do. We're freaking selling multiple brands of RFID tags and subscription services to fix this problem. GIVE ME A DAMN WATCH THAT I CAN PAY WITH.
Then Apple announced and Apple Gave It To Me! I have to wait. My contract isn't up until May. The Watch won't be available under the new year. Etc. But I can see the Holy Land and I'm not even standing on a mountain.
And this amazingly brilliant guy is musing on how it's just not obvious what the killer app for the watch is going to be. I'll tell him what it is, in all three parts.
(1) Every person who ever was in a meeting that they would leave if they got a certain phone call would rather not announce that by putting their phone on the table next to them. And every parent whose kid might have trouble in school that day is that person, which is a lot of people.
(2) I know you all quit with the watches because you could always check the time on your phone. And you all have cracked screens. Enough said.
Evans is right about the watch having to look right. And it was great to see that articulated carefully and thoughtfully. He's a smart guy. And that means that I might be really, really, really wrong about whether everyone is going to love wristband payments as much as I do. Time Will Tell.