It's a Great Time to Be a Consumer of Media and Technology
NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- One hallmark of our society: We complain. A lot.
In these parts, we like to -- I think misguidedly -- urinate and moan about cable. That it's a bad deal simply because we pay, often more than $100 a month, for a bunch of channels we don't even watch. For the sake of lamentation, we'll agree to agree. We'll set reality aside, suspend counterarguments and consider cable and satellite great American ripoffs. But, beyond that, we've got it good as consumers of media and technology.
We don't take the time often enough -- or at all -- to stop and consider how good we have got it. And then tie it back to the bubbly technology (and, to a lesser extent, media) sector.
Amazon.com (AMZN - Get Report). At the expense of the company's top and bottom lines, Jeff Bezos has made our lives disgustingly easy. For $100 a year, you get all sorts of streaming media and, more importantly, two-day shipping that doesn't feel like it takes two days. Because, quite regularly, it doesn't take two days. I get at least half of my Amazon orders the next day, often on Sunday.
You go to a brick and mortar retail store and -- within seconds -- you can purchase almost everything you see via the Amazon app. Somehow, Amazon negated our need for instant gratification. We're more than happy to fire up our iPhones (you don't even need a Fire Phone!) and wait 24-48 hours to get our goods.
Netflix (NFLX - Get Report) and Hulu. For $16 a month between the two, you can spend the rest of your life watching "television" and never get through it all. Add cable to the mix and for, let's call it, $166 a month, you could watch "television" 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and never get through it all. And be thoroughly entertained the entire time.
Pandora (P - Get Report) and Internet radio. You don't have to pay anything if you don't want to, but for a few to $15 a month, you receive a commercial free radio and/or on-demand music collection experience. Unlimited. No strings. No physical product to buy. No nothing. Just as much music -- from the entire universe of musicality -- as you can handle. And far more than you can squeeze into several lifetimes, let alone one.
That's just a surface scratch of the world we take for granted. Of what we, as consumers experience every day now feel we are entitled to. (And then incessantly "post" about on social media). What makes it all possible -- it's the sentiment I highlighted in a blog entry Monday evening:
One of "Yo's" investors argued that the app is worth his cash simply because it has a massive user base and engagement. That defense keeps alive the idea that you don't need to build a businesses anymore. Your ideas -- even if they never turn into companies that turn profits -- are good enough.
The fact that the "Yo" app can secure $1.2 million in funding helps illustrate the world we're living in. Companies -- from Amazon to Netflix to Pandora -- are merely looking to create critical mass. Sometimes that's a user base. Sometimes it's engagement. Sometimes it's both. But it's not about driving profits. That comes second to generating a following. To becoming ubiquitous.
Investors who did not resist, but embraced that nontraditional approach have done well in recent years. Because, as the founders of and large investors in these companies know, the Amazon model has managed to sustain nicely. And, if companies such as Netflix and Pandora can't replicate that model, a bigger name such as Google (GOOG) and, who knows, maybe even Apple (AAPL) will be there to bail (buy) them out.
--Written by Rocco Pendola in Santa Monica, Calif.