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The threat from below: Amazon AWSChris Koehncke
Twilio has built a growing $50m revenue a year business catering to offering all sorts of voice and SMS text API services. In a similar vein is PubNub, who has built an on the fly notification system which in all simplicity offers an easy way to publish a message to thousands of users at once with a single call (PubNub is less telephony centered as Twilio). Both of these companies are embracing WebRTC. Both these companies are happily swimming along.
A few weeks ago, Amazon quietly introduced a new AWS service known as Amazon Simple Notification Service. It’s a fairly straightforward Push Messaging API which allows a developer a simple API to message various mobile devices as well as desktop http clients. Almost accidentally, on the last sentence of the last paragraph, Amazon quietly says, “Oh we can SMS the message as well.” RED ALERT!
Classic Amazon – pricing is immediately at Wal-Mart levels. Sending an SMS message is a mere $0.0075 cents. Want to push notify 1 million end-points. Well that’s a $1. All of this quantity 1 for the lowly guy with a credit card. To get this SMS pricing level at Twilio, you’ve got to already be sending 500k text messages a month. The difference doesn’t sound like much. What’s $0.0025 amongst friends. But at the 500k message level that’s a savings of $1,250 a month.
Clearly Amazon is dipping their toe into the communication space. There are all sort of initial limitations. SMS is supported only for the US. The API is basic. Sample code libraries not extensive. And likely nobody is using the service as yet. I can almost visualize the PowerPoint deck Twilio prepared for their board. All is well.
Or is it. Twilio and PubNub are both great companies and have executed in a stellar fashion. But are they stand alone companies? Does Amazon have a history of making acquisitions? Indeed. Watch this space – something is going to happen.
As the toe becomes a foot, Amazon likely hasn’t missed the introduction of WebRTC and deep in the bowels another PowerPoint deck is in circulation for what they might offer. Hosted TURN services? STUN? Transcoding (already doing that for video). Media server ports? All at rock bottom starter prices.
The excitement is that starting a WebRTC service will likely become even easier in the future at a very low cost with nearly no barrier to entry. More popcorn please!