by Ben Hobbs from h3-digital.com
Subscription movies and music services are booming, in particular Netflix which has over 125 million users worldwide and Spotify which has over 70 million paying users.
The subscription model is where you pay a monthly fee and are entitled access to media which is streamed via the internet, rather than buy a physical CD/DVD, an album from iTunes or pay for local satellite TV service. In these subscription models like Netflix and Spotify it’s all accessed through your wi-fi or internet instead.
Why are subscription based services on the ascendancy?
Owning physical and storage media can be expensive. Why buy a digital copy of a single movie or CD? When for the same price you can buy access to almost any movie or music for the whole month?
It’s not just driven by cost, Netflix will spend around US$8 billion on content this year – much of it unique to the Netflix service. At the same time Spotify is pioneering contextual playlists, that evolve based on current moods, activities or time.
For Netflix currently in Thailand there are 3 subscription levels; ‘Basic’ at 280 Baht a month for Standard Definition on 1 screen, ‘Standard’ at 350 Baht a month for High Definition on 2 screens and ‘Premium’ at 420 Baht a month for 4K (ultra high definition) on 4 screens (so you can have people using the same subscription watching content on a smartphone, tablet and a couple of laptops plugged into TVs at the same time, for example).
Netflix has over 2,000 movies and 900 TV shows available to watch. At the time of writing a Platinum package from True Satellite costs 2,155 Baht +VAT per month.
Spotify has a free version that, unsurpisingly, doesn’t cost anything and a Premium subscription available at 129 Baht a month. Spotify has over 30 million songs available to listen to, including Thai music and playlists.
Currently Apple offer a similar subscription service (Apple Music) here in Thailand at a similar cost.
Whilst both Spotify (a Swedish company) and Netflix (a US company) have been streaming for less than a decade they are already influencing the way audiences watch and listen to content.
Many people like to binge watch TV shows. Netflix enables that by releasing entire series at once, so its subscibers can watch as many episodes in a row as they want. It makes waiting a week for the next episode seem almost archaic. You control when you watch whatever you want, when you want.
Netflix is also advert free, saving the average consumer from around 160 hours of adverts a year!! Their content can be as long or as short as the content-producers wish – Netflix don’t have to figure advert times into the schedule.
Spotify allows you to listen to others playlists and share your own, it’s this democratisation of the music library and indeed the whole system (artists can publish directly to Spotify without a record company deal) that makes it feel so fresh.
I’ve discovered so much new favourite music that I simply wouldn’t have found anywhere else. Spotify and similar services are lauded as saviours of the music industry, with record labels reporting their largest growth in revenues for over a decade, all down to subscription services and their new popularity.
There is one caveat, you must have internet for both – If you’re internet connection is down for the night then you wont be watching movies on Netflix, if it’s just slow or you have too many concurrent users then your movie will buffer, stutter and pause – annoyingly.
So whilst both are great services, make sure your internet is up to scratch and keep a few DVD’s in the cupboard, just in case.
Goodbye e-commerce, hello ‘new retail’
PHOTOS: Alibaba Group
Our lifestyles are quickly evolving as the digital age kills off the ‘old’ and the ‘new’ inexorably creeps in to our daily life. Goodby Kodak and Polaroid – hello smartphone cameras and Facebook. Goodbye newspapers – hello instant news websites, blogs and live-streaming.
The same is happening to retail as the shopfront moves to websites and screens around the world, shopping centres re-invent their approach to shoppers. We’ve heard of ‘new media’ – welcome now to ‘new retail’. E-commerce is already outmoded.
China’s Alibaba Group has launched what it calls the age of “New Retail”, which the online giant says will replace today’s “e-commerce”. New Retail will see the distinction between online and offline retail businesses soon disappear, the Chinese conglomerate said. The company is testing the new model at Hema, one of its New Retail brands, in Hangzhou, Shanghai, Beijing and other large Chinese cities.
At Hema, a premium-quality supermarket front with a wide range of home delivery services, consumers living within a 3 kilometre radius can get home delivery of fresh food items, fruit (including Thai durians), vegetables and other daily necessities within 30 minutes of placing an order.
The service is part of a so-called 3-in-1 retail experience that covers tech-driven online delivery, in-store purchases and in-store consumption.
Big data and cloud computing are among the key infrastructures supporting the use of artificial intelligence where both online and offline platforms converge through mobile and enterprise technology. For example, consumers can visit the Hema intelligent supermarket when they wish, or may prefer to stay home on a rainy day and order anything, including fresh seafood like king crabs imported from Alaska, have them cooked in a preferred style and home-delivered.
The price of imported seafood in this instance is competitive largely because of Alibaba’s global reach for imported products, which are bought directly from suppliers without layers of middlemen.
At present, more than 50 Hema branches are operational in China where mobile payment is a key driver of the Chinese digital economy that has been expanding rapidly into foreign markets, such as Thailand.
Alipay, part of Alibaba Group’s Ant Financial, is helping to turn China into a cashless society as mobile phones and apps become the predominant payment platform.
In Thailand, Alipay’s merchant network now covers hundreds of thousands of locations across the country, especially in tourist areas, as a huge number of the nearly 10 million Chinese visitors to Thailand each year use such a payment platform.
In addition, Ant Financial and Thailand’s CP Group have jointly launched the TrueMoney Wallet to provide payment and other financial services using technology to promote a cashless society here.
For e-commerce customers, Lazada, also majority-owned by Alibaba Group, is currently the front-runner in the Thai market.
On a global scale, Alibaba is the world’s largest e-commerce retailer in terms of gross merchandise value with 552 million active consumers, as of March this year, mainly on its giant Taobao and Tmall platforms for Chinese consumers.
The group’s eco-system encompasses retail commerce, consumer service, wholesale commerce, digital media and entertainment as well as new innovative initiatives supported by logistic, payment, financial and cloud computing services.
James Xu, deputy chief representative of Alibaba Group’s Thailand market, said the group had already signed four MoUs with the Thai government to implement a wide range of collaborative programmes.
The group’s eco-system will be used to help leverage the Thailand 4.0 initiative with a focus on the Eastern Economic Corridor. In addition, Alibaba will help develop Thai small and medium enterprises (SMEs), farmers and financial services.
In the tourism sector, Fliggy, Alibaba’s online travel service platform, is working with Alipay and Thai tourism authorities to attract a new generation of Chinese tourists to Thailand and offer them a cashless travel experience.
SOURCE: The Nation Weekend
The mystery of Myanmar’s missing airlines
PHOTO: Asian Wings Airways
Any trip on a local airline usually means planes either full or mostly full. But some of Myanmar’s smaller local airlines have been struggling through this year’s wet season along with a drop in tourism to the country of around 6% for the past 12 months.
At least three airlines appear to have thrown in the towel suspending services without explanation or advance notice. Local newspapers in Myanmar claimed Asian Wings Airways, Apex Airlines and FMI Air have suspended services since July.
Sources claim they were crippled by the country’s high fuel cost and a decline in passenger demand during the monsoon season.
Myanmar has around 11 airlines registered for commercial operations with a nation-wide fleet of 60 aircraft.
Asian Wings Airways, one of the airlines identified in local media reports as having scotched services struck back saying it was still operating.
“It is not true that our airline returned its AOC. We are still running our flights,” public relations Manager Yin Myo told Eleven Myanmar.
However, Asian Wings Airways’ website has been stripped of all content, although the various homepage tabs remain. Even the contact section of the website is empty and the booking engine returns the message “no flights available.”
If it is still flying, as its PR director claims, it is not picking up any bookings from its website.
Eleven Myanmar quoted the Department of Civil Aviation deputy director general, Ye Htut Aung saying: “It is true that Air Bagan and Apex Air have returned their air operator’s certificates (AOC). The rest have not turned them in yet.”
FMI Air suspended all of its services on July 20 after six years operating domestic flights.
A company spokesperson confirmed the decision claiming it was due to unrelenting and unrealistic cost pressures on Myanmar’s domestic aviation industry.
Apex Airlines was also identified by local media and the DCA for suspending all of its services, but the airline’s website offers a glimmer of hope as its booking engine continues to function although it returns the message “no available flights”. Website content has not been scrubbed, but it omits to say why passengers cannot locate any bookable flights.
To complete the picture Air Mandalay is still operating services, although a check of its website showed that it was not taking bookings for flights from Yangon to Tachilek and Myitkyina in August.
Myanmar National Airlines, the country’s national carrier, launched a new service linking Yangon and Phuket in March and within two months dropped the service claiming traffic was insufficient. It hopes to reinstate the twice-weekly service this October.
The problems reflect the state of aviation in Myanmar where there are far too many airlines to serve a market of 3 million domestic passengers and no more than 400,000 foreign tourists.
Domestic airfares are among the most expensive in the region blamed mainly on high fuel costs and government taxes.
Former Thai actor arrested over Bitcoin scam
A once-popular actor has been charged with convincing foreigners to transfer to him more than 5,500 bitcoins as an investment.
(5,500 Bitcoin are worth around 210,000 baht or US$6,300 each as of today)
Police picked up 27 year old Jiratphisit Jarawitchit today at midday at a shopping mall in Bangkok’s Chatuchak district.
The Criminal Court issued arrest warrants for him and six alleged accomplices on July 26. Jiraphisit was being detained at Crime Suppression Division headquarters pending further interrogation.
Police said he and the others got foreign investors to transfer them 5,564 bitcoins to invest in a cryptocurrency called ‘dragon coin’ and buy shares in other firms, including X-Pay Software, NX Chain Inc and DNA 2002.
But the investors did not receive the promised yields and were never invited to attend shareholder meetings. Suspecting they’d been deceived, they filed complaints with the CSD.
SOTRY: The Nation
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