A spanitisblog entrya few years ago identified the divergence of 'free' services, such as those offered by advertising companies like Facebook and Google who make their money selling end-user data (to pretty much anyone who will pay for it) and subscription services that make their money directly from end-users by charging them a subscription fee for services. This divergence continues today and will probably become more marked as the effects of GDPR begin to bite.
But another divergence concerning subscription services is emerging fast which relates to customer billing. A current example is Lyft the ride hailing company who are trialing a subscription service in San Francisco. Extracts from a related TechCrunch articlesay:
"This is no surprise, given Lyft CEO and co-founder Logan Green said earlier this week Lyft would like to achieve in transportation what Netflix achieved in streaming media with subscriptions."
What"Netflix achieved" of course is massive profits. Though a 'Lyft spokesperson' preferred to put it this way “We’re always testing new ways to provide passengers the most affordable and flexible transportation options” . Oh, of course.
But apart from these no doubt praiseworthy and altruistic motives there are also substantial savings to be made in customer billing systems by switching to a subscription based business model. No longer does every customer transaction need to be tracked, logged and reported back to the customer, ideally in real time, no we're back in the tried and true world of batch processing and reporting!
This is particularly intriguing with respect to IoT. Companies like power utilities and mobile network operators like to offer their customers (totally confusing) fixed price subscription plans but also give them access to real time usage data. Can these two business models co-exist?