WeTransfer Moves Toward File Transfer as a Microservice

It shouldn’t be news that enterprise file storage, sync, and sharing software and services (EFSS) have largely become a commodity. Prices continue to fall, in part because providers’ storage costs are still decreasing. More importantly, their cost to actually transfer a file has always been negligible, even with the application of strong encryption.
With costs low and decreasing, it’s fair to ask which of the aspects of file storage, sync, and sharing creates enough value for customers that providers can charge for the service. When you stop and think about it, the sharing or transfer of the file has always been the action that the rest of the bundled offer hangs on, especially for cloud-based services. A file can’t be stored on a provider’s servers until a copy has been transferred there. Similarly, changes to files must be transferred to keep copies in sync. The vast majority of the value proposition clearly lies in the transfer (sharing) of the file.
So it makes sense for the file transfer element to be the focal point for providers’ monetization strategies. If you accept that premise, then the next logical conclusion to be made is that file transfer can be monetized as a stand-alone service. In today’s world, that service would be built and licensed as a microservice, which can be used in any application that can call a RESTful API.
WeTransfer, a company based in Amsterdam (despite claiming San Francisco as its headquarters), has announced today the first step toward the creation of such a commercially-available file transfer microservice. A new partnership makes WeTransfer’s file transfer service an option (alongside Dropbox) for delivering photos and videos purchased from Getty Image’s iStock library. WeTransfer works in the background while the customer remains in iStock.
WeTransfer has exposed its file transfer API to Getty Images only at this point, but will be able strike up similar partnerships with other providers of graphics services. Of course, WeTransfer could also license API access to any developer looking to incorporate file transfer into an application. While it isn’t clear from their statement today if and when that will happen, the possibility is very real and quite compelling.
It’s important to note that both Box and Dropbox have made their file sharing APIs commercially available to developers for several months now, so WeTransfer is playing catch up in this regard. However, WeTransfer has emphasized file sharing almost exclusively since its founding in 2009 as a web-based service that only stores a file being shared for seven days before deleting it from their servers. Dropbox, on the other hand, originally was popular because of its simple-but-effective sync feature, and Box was initially perceived as a cloud-based storage service.
The potential market for file transfer microservices is so young and large that no provider has a clear advantage at this point. The recent nullification of the Safe Harbor agreement (PDF) between the European Union and the United States also presents a significant challenge to file services vendors that provide file storage for a global and multinational customer base. If WeTransfer emphasizes its legacy as an easy-to-use, dependable file transfer-only service with its newly-created microservice, it could gain a larger share of the market and expand well beyond its current niche of creative professional customers.

Uber’s first test of crisis surge cap went unnoticed in October

All eyes are on New York, where along with a massive incoming storm, Uber is rolling out its emergency surge pricing cap. On Monday, there was a flurry of coverage by media outlets from Bloomberg to Time, with some saying this marks, “a chance for Uber Technologies Inc. to show it has learned from past mistakes.”

But this isn’t the first time Uber has capped surge pricing during a state of emergency — it’s the second.

According to a source familiar with the testing, Uber used its new surge price capping system in October during Hurricane Ana in Hawaii, which appears to have gone unreported by media. The company didn’t make a fuss of the development, choosing to introduce the system without scrutiny. Although Hawaii declared a state of emergency during that time, Hurricane Ana didn’t cause much damage.

Here’s how Uber calculates surge pricing in states of emergency: It chooses the fourth highest surge rate in the 60 days prior and makes that the capped rate for the storm. The top three highest surge rates from the prior two months will be ignored, in hopes of keeping the fare reasonable. It’s not clear why Uber won’t just cap surge at a designated amount, like 2x. The company will donate all of its revenue, which is 20 percent of each ride, to the American Red Cross during this time.

Uber announced the new emergency surge pricing policy in July, in light of tropical storm Arthur, which hit the East Coast. But according to an SF Examiner story, the pricing cap never went into effect because a state of emergency was never declared during the storm. Hawaii’s Hurricane Ana was its first test in October, but the New York blizzard will be its biggest.

The capped fare for New York’s upcoming blizzard Juno comes after the state’s attorney general penned a New York Times op-ed shaming Uber for what he called “price gouging” in the wake of surge pricing during Hurricane Sandy. The blowback for Uber surge pricing during times of crises stretch across the globe, with the recent outcry notably occurring after a hostage situation in Sydney. During instances like these, Uber has initially repeated the company line about how surge pricing gets more drivers on the road during times they might not otherwise drive.

This is true, but it doesn’t subvert the ethical quandary of leaving those who can’t afford the surge pricing in a potentially dangerous situation. The reoccurring outcry appears to have prompted Uber to have a change of heart.

Services with Airbnb pricing data grow as the king stays quiet

Successful new companies generate new business opportunities, as other companies emerge in their wake to support them and find their own profits, and Airbnb is no different. As more and more consumers are renting their properties on Airbnb — and some are doing so full-time as their own business — a spate of companies have formed to help Airbnb renters become mini real estate agents.

Airdna is one such offering. It combs Airbnb data to give people information on average Airbnb prices in their neighborhood, as well as analytics like most popular amenities offered in your area and the effects of using Airbnb’s Instant Book feature.

Based in Santa Monica, the product is built and marketed by a father-son team. Airdna started out as an e-book written by the son, Scott Shatford. It offered directions and advice to those looking to rent Airbnb apartments full-time. Shatford soon realized that Airbnb’s wealth of data, once organized, would be its own business opportunity. He calls it the “Wild, Wild West.”

“We’re making this leap of faith that people really want to get smart and data-driven about Airbnb,” Shatford told me.

Airdna is a freemium product, and you can access basic information — such as what can you expect to make in your city based on the size of your place — for free. The more detailed report of your area costs $30.

Airdna faces some stiff competition. A few other companies have cropped up with similar offerings. Beyond Pricing is one such product, and its slick beautiful design puts Airdna’s early 2000s look to shame. Airenvy is another competitor in the field, although it’s a little different. It manages your property for a fee, using a price fixing algorithm to determine the best price for the season, market availability, and area.

These are the kinds of companies that will help the nascent apartment sharing industry mature and reach a mainstream population. But their businesses are probably at the mercy of Airbnb’s whims; Airbnb offers a rudimentary room recommendation price already for its hosts (albeit not one sophisticated enough to consider seasonal or day-to-day demand changes).

If Airbnb wanted to kill these counterpart companies by producing its own data analytics, it could at any time. We’ve seen it happen before, whether it’s Twitter killing off Twitpic by introducing its own photo upload feature or Facebook rolling out a music player to compete with iLike.

By the Numbers: What a Bloom Electron Is Worth

What’s a Bloom Electron worth to would-be customers of Bloom Energy’s new power purchase agreement style service — and what will those electrons cost Bloom and its financial backers?

Cost to Make the Apple TV? Just $64

iSuppli has gotten around to tearing down the new Apple TV and assessing its manufacturing cost. The final tally? Only $64 U.S., a considerably smaller sum than the $237 the previous generation Apple TV, introduced in 2007, cost to make. So why the big difference?

Evaluating the Costs of Collaboration

At first glance, web-based collaboration tools can seem cheap: Basecamp’s price of $49/month sounds good in comparison with $599.95 for Microsoft Project 2010. However, 12 months on Basecamp is $588. You need to dig a little deeper in order to consider all of the costs.

Apple Makes at Least $200 Per iPad Sold: Report

A new report about production costs for the iPad reveals a wide profit margin on a per-device basis. The entry-level $499 model apparently generates $208 in profit, while the top of the line $829 model more than doubles that, raking in $446 per unit.

Estimate Places Total App Store Piracy Cost at $450M

An interesting article at the financial blog 24/7 Wall St. today estimates the total cost of pirated apps to the App Store, for both Apple (s aapl) and developers, to be somewhere near the $450 million-mark. That number depends on a revenue estimate of between $60 million and $110 million per quarter, which is probably less than the actual number since those figures are based on a slightly older report by Bernstein analyst Toni Sacconaghi.

The article also notes that finding good solid numbers related to both the number of jailbroken iPhones that are out there, and the number of those devices that are actually pirating games is difficult to do. After reviewing numerous sources of information, 24/ Wall St. arrived at the conclusion that an estimate of 75 percent piracy rates for paid apps was most accurate. Read More about Estimate Places Total App Store Piracy Cost at $450M

WolframAlpha iPhone: Why the $50 Asking Price?

WolframAlpha Web App

WolframAlpha Web App

When it was first released, WolframAlpha generated a lot of buzz surrounding the impressive computational power the new search engine-type service offered. Specifically for mathematical and statistical queries, it goes quite beyond what Google (s goog) is able to offer. But does all that power justify a $50 price tag on the site’s iPhone app treatment?

Wolfram Alpha LLC seems to think so, since it’s asking $49.99 for the just-released app, the first developed using Wolfram Alpha’s new API. Mashable also seems to agree, but I’m not so sure, and I’ll tell you why. Read More about WolframAlpha iPhone: Why the $50 Asking Price?

App Developer Diary Part 4: The Hidden Cost of iPhone Apps

mouthoff-iphone

Going behind-the-scenes of a real iPhone app’s development, the latest installment takes a candid look at the economics of the App Store.

In my previous entry for the App Developer Diary, I was lost behind a mountain of paper-work. Since then, the rapidly growing mountain of tasks hasn’t changed too much — I’m still working on the game design document and concept artwork, but an array of new tasks have also joined the list.
The game I’m developing with Pear Computers is being created in our spare time. As such, we’re not keeping any records as to how long we’re spending on a given task. We’re working evenings and weekends, any random available hour, to push the project forward.
Although some smaller developers may work in this manner, this isn’t the way it would work at a big studio. A larger studio needs to know how much money they’re investing in an app’s development, ensuring that they’re staying on-budget and able to accurately calculate how much profit will be generated.
As we’re not keeping any official record, without running through e-mails and diary entries, we’re unable to accurately quantify the cost of development. So instead of generating a hasty approximation for the benefit of this diary’s readers, I spoke to Mills, founder of mobile content studio UsTwo, to tell me about the hidden costs of developing for iPhone. Read More about App Developer Diary Part 4: The Hidden Cost of iPhone Apps