U.S. e-commerce giant Amazon plans to launch its own stand-alone messaging app, called Anytime, according to a news report that cites a user who claims to have received an Amazon survey about the new messaging service. Amazon has not confirmed that it is working on this service.
The app would be available to end-users of smartphones, tablets, PCs and smartwatches. The survey asks users which features are most important to them, and according to one customer, the survey seemed to imply it was a ready product. Anytime is described as an all-in-one feature-rich service that includes text messages and video chat. Anytime will also include features that can be used in groups, such as games, music, and food ordering.
The service will keep chats private and will allow users to “encrypt important messages like bank account details.”
While this report is certainly far from conclusive, Amazon’s ambitions have always been big and appear to be getting bigger. The company has already launched messaging services for both businesses and consumers, including Amazon Chime, the online video-conferencing service for enterprises. Recently it launched messaging and calling features for Alexa devices.
So it makes sense that Amazon would launch an all-purpose OTT messaging app to compete directly with WhatsApp, Skype and others. And considering the company’s highly aggressive approach in general, its level of capitalization and its huge existing customer base, we would not be surprised to see Anytime (if that is what it will be called) pose a major threat to all existing players. Perhaps it would eventually even acquire and take over some of those services.
For mobile operators, Amazon’s entry into the OTT space would not have the impact it would have on the OTT players themselves, of course. The game has already been lost, in a sense, with MNOs losing messaging business to OTTs and then striking deals to zero-rate their data and even engaging in partnerships to promote them. Still, a huge, possibly market-dominating new player could shake things up in the sector. Amazon would arguably have less reason to work with the MNOs for promotional purposes, and it could also simply, by virtue of its size and scope, take even more business away from SMS/MMS and even MNOs’ voice services. At the very least, an Amazon OTT would be just one more challenge for mobile operators to contend with in the traditional services space—and maybe beyond, given the possible presence of gaming, music and other non-traditional features in the putative Anytime.