Hacker News new | comments | show | ask | jobs | submit login
Amazon possibly working on new stand-alone messaging app called Anytime (aftvnews.com)
25 points by doener 9 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 50 comments

why in the world is everyone so keen on entering the messaging app space? what the hell is the value for all of these companies? is conversation data that useful for training deep nets or something?

If you take a look at what wechat has done in china,you will get the answer.More and more people there are shopping,making payments via wechat pay instead of alipay,watching news through wechat news instead of other news sites,searching keywords through wechat search instead of baidu and doing almost everything in wechat.WeChat is a growing threat to other IT companies in china.In fact,alibaba has already tried several times to make a successful messaging platform but fails repeatedly(just like Google's messaging mess). If facebook move in WeChat's direction,it will be a huge threat to amazon.Please excuse for my bad English as i am not a native speaker.

Can Facebook and other US tech companies move in WeChat's direction successfully, in the West? Why did WeChat take off as such an everything-application in China? Do the same necessary motivations and trends exist elsewhere?

I'd speculate not, at least not in the US. Here, more people have different types of computers (laptops, desktops, tablets, phones, set-top boxes) which are all united mainly by Web browsers / technologies. The Web is naturally - or at least, has been historically - more open and less conducive to walled gardens. Consequently, I think US consumers are used to the experience of getting news from (for example) the Washington Post, shopping on Amazon, and checking email on GMail, while navigating between these sites without too much hassle. This experience has largely been replicated on mobile devices, at least for me, despite the best efforts of Facebook and others to keep me locked in their app outside of mobile Chrome and Safari.

Since the Chinese government won't allow strong foreign competitors to penetrate their domestic market, I have to assume that Facebook, Google, and so forth are targeting other countries with these all-in-one messaging apps. Perhaps India would most resemble China's mobile-dominated market?

The environment is not the same as China, both in terms of the infrastructure and people's expectations and mentalities.

Tencent is what it is because competition is banned. China's "internet" is more like AOL from the early 90s, with network performance from the early 2000s at best. Nobody is going to be able to move in WeChat's direction because other governments aren't willing to erect massive censorship infrastructure to kill competition.

Exactly this. WeChat is an example of what Amazon can possibly do that no other US company is remotely capable of.

I was going to say I can imagine an app that combines FB Messenger, Yelp, Travelocity, OpenTable, GrubHub, and Uber. But WeChat already has all these things (either via companies they own or via partnerships).

Amazon also has Prime, so they can offer millions of subscribers incentives to prime the AnyTime pump.

Many applications are really messaging apps underneath, even when it's less obvious (see many multi-player, non-realtime, games; and some realtime ones). They already possess the infrastructure for all of this. The next thing to do for these companies is keep people inside their environment longer so that they spend money within that environment.

An Amazon messaging service principally gives you, well, chat with others. Then they build gaming applications that use that infrastructure. Open it up to 3rd parties to use this (like Apple's Game Center, but not constrained to iOS). Now you're getting rent from game developers. It's probably easily integrated with other services (video and music, for shared consumption experiences like when my GF and I, 5k miles apart, want to watch a movie together, not that we'd make use of that, we never have the same movies available on the same service at the same time anyways).

And if they actually do this, note the last feature: chat with businesses. WhatsApp screwed the pooch on that one. My GF is in Argentina, many people use WhatsApp as their primary chat (and often voice) mechanism. Businesses want to use it, but they practically can't. WhatsApp is tied to a single device (maybe get the web client going and you've got two). It's tied to a single mobile device at that. And businesses that tried to use it (often using 3rd party software to make it practical for their use-cases) ended up with accounts closed (that they'd have to reopen, a pain in the ass).

Apple can't offer that feature because they keep their messaging clients tied to their hardware. iOS devices are not practical in many countries still (due to either the local economy being too poor, or the government adding high taxes to iDevices in particular).

Google could have taken this market, but, well they don't have a fucking clue how to pick a goal and stick with it. They keep adding new messaging clients every other month that aren't always compatible with the old ones.

Amazon barely makes hardware (Fire Stick, Kindle, Kindle Fire, the Echo devices). They don't care about winning on hardware, they want to win on services. They're more than happy to offer their stuffs on any device it can run on as long as it increases their presence (which leads to an increase in spending on their platform).

In my view, messaging is the best example of how bloat over time kills apps. Nobody actively wants to switch messaging apps, but with numerous apps that have come and gone throughout the years - from icq to msn messenger to yahoo messenger to Skype to WhatsApp to kik to Line, often enough it's that the app itself gets bloated to the point where the fundamental messaging capability becomes secondary and folks move away to something that just works - or is easier and takes advantage of a new paradigm in discoverability and that becomes where you find most of your community.

WeChat is the perfect counterexample here, and I think it speaks to why a company like Amazon would love to "own the bloat." For western markets, if Apple or Facebook is equivalent to WeChat with their pervasive messaging platforms, and Amazon is the equivalent of Alibaba, then the war between them alluded to in https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WeChat#WeChat_Pay_payment_serv... tells you all you need to know about why this is a crucial battlefront.

It's one thing when bloat is from attempts at software feature differentiation; that's what kills these apps. It's another thing entirely when you're interfacing with product and payment ecosystems, when your features make you the core way in which people live their lives. It'll be damn hard to stick the landing, but Amazon absolutely has to try.

This hits the nail on the head. Western companies have seen the massive ecosystem that WeChat provides via their highly effective messaging UI and belatedly realize through their corporate and fiduciary duty bound value systems that there is a whole 'nother level they must aspire to.

When web-based giants successfully developed and implemented private clouds they served as an aspirational beacon for CIOs to transform their internal technology roadmaps. CxO teams are now greedily eyeing the WeChat experience and saying to themselves "we can do that too!" in a similar manner.

By the way, this type of thinking isn't confined to corporate executives -- WeChat is so appallingly all-encompassing that even pure decentralized plays (e.g. Urbit) use WeChat as a concrete instantiation of the type of end-user-experience to strive for, albeit in more user- and freedom- friendly manners.

yes, and also for advertising

if amazon can start selling ads to you, based on what you're talking about, that would be much more desirable than ads based only on viewing/purchasing history.

messaging in particular is also a really viral phenomenon - you choose your app based on where your friends are and you don't switch. having a loyal captive audience is really useful to start selling to, a la wechat payments or other value add services where you can take some transaction fee. this fits very well with amazon's overarching business model of 'middlemanning every transaction'

Because messaging is a fundamental aspect of humanity, and because WhatsApp, Messenger and Slack now have platforms that almost anything and everything can be built on, producing ungodly amounts of money.

Is there any publicly available proof that WhatsApp, Messenger, or Slack are producing godly amounts of money? Because as far as I can tell:

* WhatsApp only produced large amounts of money for the founders but never profited and was intentionally never priced for massive profits.

* Messenger's monitization efforts have only been experimental so far, and those experiments have been lackluster from a revenue standpoint.

* Slack's financials are private and their most recent revenue claims that I have found are two years old but only $30M which would still be substantially far away from the billion dollar range even if they were in the 99th percentile of growth rates for VC backed companies.

In fact, industry estimates are that the market for messaging is growing but still <$10B. When compared to the sort of money that a single company makes from advertising on their search engine, some might say that messaging is still producing very normal human levels of money and nowhere near ungodly territory.

Butterfield has talked about Slack's revenue already being in the billions

Which one of those are really producing "ungodly amounts of money"? They have tons of users, but as far as I know WhatsApp and Messenger don't have much in the way of commercial integration to "build almost anything and everything" yet?

The Enterprise space is quite competetive in messaging space. Microsoft is the clear winner so far, followed closely by Google.

Why is MS trying their hardest to kill Skype, then?

They are? Haven't they been pushing Skype for Business pretty hard, considering also that they have supplanted Communicator/Lync with it as well?

what's the MS solution? shows that i've never worked in enterprise that i don't even know


Unless there is a self hosted requirement.

"Everything you've wanted in a messaging app"

Matrix support and total federation integration.

Everything I wanted is one messaging app where everybody is on, where no data or meta data can ever be shared and which is run by human rights activists.

This, I guess, ain't it.

lol, a nerd can dream.

I just want a widely used messaging platform that isn't owned by Facebook (Messenger and WhatsApp).

Sadly Microsoft and Google seem incapable of doing it.

But everyone I know just switched over to Google Allo! We all have to switch again? /s

I think viewing this a just another instant messaging walled garden is short sighted. This appears to be the digital portion of Amazon's attempt to displace and disrupt the US mail system. Messaging/voice/video provide a secure digital communications backbone to every Amazon account, much like iMessage does for Apple IDs.

As Amazon operationalizes its own physical delivery network (planes, trucks, drones), the USPS is going to be demolished and postal rates will rise dramatically. Amazon accounts link every user one or more physical addresses. Anytime will also link those users to a secure digital "address" appropriate for delivery of sensitive information like financial and medical records.

With this hub in place, Amazon can act as a clearinghouse to functionally displace the physical mail system in the US and throughout the world. Most of what arrives in your mailbox would be more efficiently and securely delivered electronically, but to date there has been no centralized platform to digitally mail items so every bank/medical practice/company has had to create its own internal secure messaging system or rely on email.

Amazon Anywhere can act as the pre-scaled missing link to solve his problem while creating additional benefits to Amazon by functionally requiring anyone without an Amazon account to get one to receive secure communications in the future. It doesn't necessarily have to succeed as an IM or video call platform in order to fulfill this role.

Wish we would get out of this red ocean of competing messaging platforms and head towards something more open, like XMPP (at least Slack works dandy with that) or even how email and the internet in general works.

I have five messaging applications on my phone already and there is nothing critical on these platforms that couldn’t be handled by a single, polyglot client.

That's what Matrix tried to solve.

Yeah, it went exactly as everyone expected.

Amazon should stick to what they are good at and stop releasing these also-ran products.

What they are good at is trying a shit ton of ideas and then optimizing and doubling down on the winners. If they just "stuck to what they are good at" they would still be a small online bookstore.

The issue is that they are slipping on things they used to be good at. They are a lousy bookstore now and even the general retail experience has seriously regressed.

Legitimately curious, but what about them is objectively "lousy"? ANECDOTE ALERT: I love how easy it is to buy a book from them, my new James Baldwin novel went from "read a review on another site, found it on amazon, ordered" in about 3 minutes, and the book itself arrived a day and a half later.

Carmack has a good recent example so I will defer to him for an example - https://twitter.com/ID_AA_Carmack/status/886229891720630272

I would expect a store of Amazons scale to do a far better job of categorising and searching information than what they offer right now. Also discovery of new books is very suboptimal in my opinion.

What results do you get for that search? The first and most are actually about video codecs for me. Then you have the weird erotic fiction, but restricting the search to "video engineering" is 2 clicks away on my phone, 1 on desktop.

I'm not sure they were ever a good bookstore, just cheap and online. They became the incumbent and it's hard to supplant the incumbent unless they falter.

Amazon should stick to what they are good

Which is what? Cloud services? Logistics and Freight Routing? Physical inventory management?

The way I see it is Amazon literally is an "I also-ran faster 2 years later" company.

Almost every product they have is a wildly successful variation on a mildly successful already existing product.

I don't follow.

AWS, fire TV stick, echo dot, Amazon fresh, audible; all of these are great products / product lines that have little to do with delivery of non perishable goods.

This is annoying for all the reasons typically cited...but what if amazon (or someone big like amazon) actually dove full-head into leveraging/supporting the matrix protocol as the foundation of their messaging product/service? And before anyone replies with "but then amazon wouldn't get their intended walled garden/controlled silo"...i beg you to ponder the notion that amazon has AWS - basically servers/services for hire - but that didn't stop microsoft, google, etc. from starting competing (similar) services. Imagine a future where amazon creates "chat as a service" based on matrix. Sure some firms/individuals won't need more than their own self-hosted instance...but enterprises - already experienced with aws - can add on pro hosted chat (a la matrix protocol). Amazon could even contribute to the mattrix project, even if only to feel like they're helping to steer the software updates to benefit their company. Overall everyone wins:

* Amazon doesn't need to develop a new chat system from scratch.

* They can make plenty of money hosting matrix instance servers for private individuals and more importantly enterprises (read: cha-ching!).

* By contributing to matrix project, amazon can "feel good" about to contributing to open source.

* Amazon gets free on-boarding of potential new customers. Use-case: small business sets up their own matrix instance...eventually outgrows that, then turns to AWS, and voila, they migrate their instance to the official/supported AWS matrix instances.

* If matrix - like email - were to eventually become a more widespread de facto messaging/chat protocl, AWS would be leagues ahead of other competitors.

* There is also incentive for the competion (microsoft, google), if Amazon starts this, because like AWS, the others would compete with their own chat/messaging platforms, but enterprise customers would have an easier migration curve - because all chat/messaging would be based on matrix...not unlike email platform migrations today.

Maybe my thoughts above are pipe dreaMS...but beyond the feel good aspects, i firmly believe there are possibilities for businesses to make good amounts of money in this space...and all due to a very good default protocol.

Every sufficiently proficient programmer will eventually write their own text editor, Every sufficiently large enterprise will eventually write its own messaging app.

It annoys me that everyone wants you to play inside their walled garden. It's especially annoying with all of these smart speakers that function perfectly fine as Bluetooth speakerphones.

I would much rather they augment my existing phone service.

There was a time aol, yahoo and msn were made to play nice and interop, will that soon be the case with these new messaging platforms?

As I recall, that was a very brief period and then they all went their own ways again with an arms race to prevent people from connecting to their networks without the official clients.

Google used XMPP initially with Google Talk, but then turned off federation (was it ever on? I recall it was, but that was a long time ago).

We've had greater than a decade now of poor interop between messaging platforms. This is unlikely to change as long as these platforms are owned by people with a vested interest in controlling the experience (tying it to their hardware or other services or ad networks, primarily).

Federation did work. I had it configured on our server.

Amazon echo is their attempt at a smart phone without a screen.

That's not how anyone should look at a smart speakers because it's fundamentally flawed. A smart phone is a very intimate and personal device. A smart speaker is the exact opposite of that. It needs to be easily multiuser out of the box.

The Echo worked because it was user oblivious but the new communication features break that model and are decidedly user specific and functionally retarded.

I love my echo, but I hate that it thinks it's user oblivious. Take "alexa play music" which will play recommended artists based on your listening history. All it plays is garbage (in terms of my tastes) because 1) my wife LOVES cold play and listens to that a lot 2) my mom lived with us for a few months to help with kids and now it thinks I reaaaaly like Christian rock (I don't). So music recommendations, a key feature, is worthless. Plus, if you have an audible or Spotify account it's definitely tightly coupled to user profiles. I can play my Spotify songs on Echo from my phone by selecting "My devices" but my wife can't, so she has a speedster Bluetooth speaker she uses because it's just easier for her.

Amazon Echo is pretty good, but it's biggest most annoying flaw is the way it handles multiple users as if they are one.

Anyone wanna take the bet that this will follow the same path their phone did?

When will it be available? Anytime soon?

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact