Subscription Buffet May Be Over


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All you can eat buffet can be fabulous. (Oh, at least before Covid-19.) Pay one price and get options for roast beef, pizza, green beans, chocolate fountain and more. Gluttony made easy.

Most subscriptions to digital services work the same way. Netflix, Spotify, and Amazon Prime often charge a fee for access to a beauty collection.

However, there are signs that all-you-can-eat digital subscriptions are getting more nuanced. Some companies, like Amazon-owned grocery chain Disney and Whole Foods, charge their subscribers more for extras. Others, including Spotify and YouTube, are experimenting with subscriptions that cost less but come with tradeoffs. Both strategies could indicate that the endless digital kiosk is changing for the better.

I don’t know if the subscription strategies will be permanent or how we might react to having more options. You can choose to pay less at the buffet or pay a little more for filet mignon as you always skip dessert. Or it can ruin the simple appeal of the buffet.

Either way, we have to get used to more experimentation. This week, The Verge has both Spotify and YouTube is experimenting with lower-priced subscription offers with limitations. YouTube charges $12 per month for its video and music service with no ad breaks in the US. testing an offer in some European countries less than half the normal rate. This offer does not include some of the typical features that paying customers get, including the ability to download videos for later use when you don’t have an internet connection. Spotify is also experimenting with a limited offer of up to 99 cents a month, compared to a typical $10 monthly subscription.

Disney is going the other way, charging Disney+ streaming subscribers extra. I want to watch some of your newly released movies at home. Bloomberg News this week that Whole Foods Testing a $9.95 delivery fee in some US cities. So far, both Whole Foods and Amazon’s Fresh grocery service have mostly charged Prime members an additional delivery fee. (Fresh apparently doesn’t require a separate delivery fee. I don’t get it either.)

Most all-you-can-eat digital subscription services are already somewhat nuanced, with higher prices for households with more devices. cheaper subscriptions with limitations in some low-income countries.

For the most part, however, these companies have a relatively simple single quote for everything they offer. And there are potential risks when companies stray from their all-you-can-eat model. People who are already paying for Prime or Disney+ may feel scammed if asked to pay more. Lower-cost subscription options may attract full-price users.

one of Netflix overlooked super powers There is (mostly) a single version of (mostly) different prices with and without add-ons or with and without ads for (mostly) sports or new releases. The simplicity of a single subscription offer eliminates the need to consider a number of options before deciding to sign up.

But the advantage of adding more subscription permutations is that they can offer more people what they want. I don’t pay for a Spotify subscription, but I might be tempted if I can pay a little less even if I don’t get all the goodies of full-pay members. I can also imagine an electronics fan might appreciate a cheaper Spotify subscription that only includes the music they’re likely to listen to.

Online subscriptions may feel like they’ve been around forever, but they’re relatively new and still developing characteristic of online life. I’m still not sold on that subscriptions to everything is the best way for companies and people trying to make money with our wallets or the internet.

But it makes sense for subscription offers to start falling apart because not everyone wants the same thing. We can get more than exactly what we want and miss the simplified gluttony.

  • The collective strength of humanity is needed to solve our biggest problems. But my Opinion colleague Farhad Manjoo asks“What if humanity’s capacity to cooperate is undone by technology that we thought would bring us all together?”

  • Self-driving cars are not mainstream, but they have already changed the labor market: The rest of the world is looking how outsourced work has changed Fleets of people in low-income countries are educational software for thinking more like human drivers, and this includes tasks like tagging digital images of water drops. (My colleague Cade Metz also written about all the people it takes to teach AI software.)

  • In today’s installment of “technology is not magic”: Software algorithms aimed at helping hospitals quickly diagnose coronavirus patients or predict how sick they may be mostly didn’t make a difference Some may have made things worse, according to MIT Technology Review.

    Related: Peanut waiter robot is bad at his job.

i’m in love with it jumping with horse dancing and nightclub music. (Here more Mopsi and human rider Steffen Peters at the Olympics.)


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