1. Hulu Lowers Subscription Fee
Last week, Netflix raised its subscription fee from 13% to 18%. We wondered how competitors in the streaming industry would respond. Then voilà, Hulu announced it will lower prices on its basic, ad-supported subscription plan from $7.99 per month to $5.99 per month. Instead of hiking up prices to compete with Netflix, Hulu hopes to pick up old Netflix customers who are ready to move on to a cheaper option. Hulu has recently seen the highest retention and engagement from those customers who pay the basic $5.99 per month, making its decision to lower prices easier. However, Hulu will charge more for its live TV streaming service and the cost will go from $39.99 to $44.99 for those willing to pay for newly added channels. Who are the stakeholders? Disney will soon become a majority owner of Hulu once it acquires 21st Century Fox, which owns stock in Hulu. Comcast and AT&T also own portions of Hulu. When the fees change on Feb. 26, Hulu customers won’t be the only ones affected.
2. New App in China Tracks “Deadbeat Debtors”
An app developed in China notifies its users if they are within 500 meters of a “deadbeat debtor,” according to state-run newspaper China Daily. The app uses WeChat, a popular messaging system in the country, to track the exact location of the person experiencing debt. The government encourages citizens to use the app to “whistle-blow on debtors.” This new technology further develops the social-credit system unveiled by China in 2014, which will be mandatory in 2020. The system assigns citizens a “trustworthiness” score based on their ability to pay off loans and the way they behave in public. Not only do people with a low score experience public shame, but they are also limited from making certain purchases. In fact, over 60K people have been blocked from booking flights and train rides given their score. However, citizens can earn credit points for doing things like volunteering or donating blood. What else determines “trustworthiness?” Playing too many video games or even posting fake information online can lower a person’s score. Watch out, China. Too much gaming, and you might be stuck at home.
3. Amazon’s Robot Delivers to You
Meet Scout, Amazon’s new robot that will make door-to-door deliveries.
Amazon Scout acts like a cooler that can roll electronically. The company plans to test six robots out in a neighborhood in Washington State. Initially, Scout will be accompanied by an Amazon employee but eventually, it will make deliveries autonomously. Scout will navigate the sidewalks, and Amazon ensures it can safely avoid pedestrians, pets, and anything else in its path. Amazon says in a blog post, “We continually invest in new technologies to benefit customers.” The public saw this with Amazon’s announcement of the drone system, called Prime Air, that has yet to take off. Will Scout succeed? In a job description involving robots in Seattle, Amazon invites applicants to join them in building “a highly scalable mission-critical robotics system that will transform our customers’ experiences in ways we can’t even imagine yet.” Other companies, such as Starship Technologies, have created robots that deliver in a similar fashion, and larger firms like Domino’s Pizza and PepsiCo have experimented as well. Hopefully, Amazon Scout will deliver more than just PR on a large scale.