Amazon Silk Video

As Amazon announced their new tablets they also mentioned a new browser they had built – Amazon Silk. Silk promises to be the fastest browser ever, especially on a mobile device, because it uses Amazon’s cloud services to do a lot of the backend computing. In other words, your little tablet won’t have to do a lot of requests over the network and then work some computationally (sort of) difficult stuff to render web pages as you browse using Silk.

It’s an interesting idea, and one that is described pretty well in this video by Amazon:

Amazon Silk Video

What Silk Means

So why is Amazon, a company that now sells devices, trying to make the workload on your device less? I mean, shouldn’t they want to follow Apple’s iCloud strategy and push the compute to the device so people feel like they need to buy a new one every year as it gets slower and slower?? Why pay all that money for compute costs in the cloud (OK, it’s not that expensive for Amazon since they own the cloud, but still, it’s not free)?


I was going to spend the time writing up how brilliant this was – but Chris Espinosa has already written it better than I ever could; check out his post on the topic:

The “split browser” notion is that Amazon will use its EC2 back end to pre-cache user web browsing, using its fat back-end pipes to grab all the web content at once so the lightweight Fire-based browser has to only download one simple stream from Amazon’s servers. But what this means is that Amazon will capture and control every Web transaction performed by Fire users. Every page they see, every link they follow, every click they make, every ad they see is going to be intermediated by one of the largest server farms on the planet. People who cringe at the data-mining implications of the Facebook Timeline ought to be just floored by the magnitude of Amazon’s opportunity here. Amazon now has what every storefront lusts for: the knowledge of what other stores your customers are shopping in and what prices they’re being offered there. What’s more, Amazon is getting this not by expensive, proactive scraping the Web, like Google has to do; they’re getting it passively by offering a simple caching service, and letting Fire users do the hard work of crawling the Web. In essence the Fire user base is Amazon’s Mechanical Turk, scraping the Web for free and providing Amazon with the most valuable cache of user behavior in existence.

It’s awesome. And for sure worth the expense.

Now they just have to get people using the browser! I’m excited to try it out…

Finally, a funny:

Check out the recommended videos alongside the Amazon Silk Video

If I thought Google was smarter I’d think they’d put there there on purpose!

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Using a pricing decoy

One of my sysadmins pointed out a great post from yesterday on using a decoy on your pricing page. If done well this can be a great strategy.

I’ve used this decoy pricing tactic on OfficeDrop’s pricing pages for a while. In particular, our digital filing pricing page has an expensive plan that has nicely increased overall conversion on the page.

The main result of this decoy is increased conversion on the page. In otherwords, a higher number & percent of visitors to the page pick a plan and become an OfficeDrop user. It hasn’t really changed the MIX of plans (very few people pick the expensive plan and the same % of people pick the other plans). But I consider the decoy plan a success because it’s getting more people into our funnel.


decoy pricing
Conversion Rate w/Decoy Pricing

You can see the pop here when we added a decoy pricing plan to our standard digital filing pricing page. This chart is the % of visitors who visited the page and then signed up for a plan. I.e. the conversion rate of the page. Note that there is a little dip in the beginning that has nothing to do with pricing; it’s a data error. The way to look at this w/o the data error is the two little peaks on the left are close to the pre-decoy conversion rate average; the hump on the rigth is the new average post addition of the decoy pricing plan.

What the Decoy Pricing Plan Looks Like

The decoy pricing is the “ScanPro” “ScanFive” plan on the right. (Thanks for the typo catch Pete!)


decoy pricing plan

Decoy Pricing Plan

It’s designed to be expensive and to make clear that we’ve got the ability to support additional users in the plans… it’s not really clicked that often.

Anyways, check out the post I linked to above. You’ll find it very solid, and it explains why a decoy plan works.

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Freemium – what is it?

Lincoln Murphy, the well known SaaS Marketing guy, got pretty upset at a recent TechCrunch piece on the freemium pricing strategy that posted this weekend. Lincoln says (I’m on his email newsletter list; it’s pretty good): “In a nutshell the Complete Guide to Freemium on TechCrunch is a post by someone who got lucky enough to get their post accepted so he can get a backlink to his site from TechCrunch and where he takes the results of studies and some words from high-profile VCs and weaves it together into a post for the TMZ of the tech industry.”

Ouch. That’s a little harsh. The article isn’t bad at all. The conclusion is 100% great, actually.

What is Freemium?

However, I don’t think it’s the Ultimate Guide to what is a actually a pretty complicated pricing strategy. I happen to disagree with the author’s ideas that a time based free trial = freemium. I can’t tell if my disagreement is a big deal or not – his company, FutureSimple, has a free trial offer, so it’s hard to know how much of the piece is using that as the basis for the post vs. a couple of professors he references. I disagree with the idea that a free trial is freemium so much because OfficeDrop recently made the switch from a free trial to having a free forever plan and we called it “going freemium.”

My definition of freemium is that a user will have the opportunity to use the service/software/whatever forever without having to pay for it. It may be a limited plan or limited features, it may be ad supported; whatever. It just means you can use it for as long as you’d like without paying. FreshBooks has a freemium model, but you run out of “free” pretty quickly. You can jump through hoops to keep it free, but most likely you’ll upgrade. A free trial that expires after a set number of days doesn’t meet my definition of freemium.

OfficeDrop’s free plan is driven by our mobile distribution strategy. I write a little bit about why we think apps are taking over here. But you should listen to my conversation with Lincoln – I call it “Healy Jones on Freemium.” Our free plan is a free forever plan, with some upgrade triggers baked in – search limits, storage limits, OCR limits. But it’s a pretty good product for free; we are the only company offering free high quality OCR for scanned images coupled with storage. People seem to like the plan… and they also seem to like to upgrade to paid plans. We like that part for sure!

Lincoln is putting on a webinar on kicking butt with your company’s free trials model. I think he’s got some good stuff, so I’d suggest you register!

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