But That Trick NEVER Works

By | Monday, August 21, 2023 2 comments
I'm not sure if there was a formal announcement at the time, but I learned over the weekend that Amazon launched a new webtoon service back in April for Japanese customers. As far as I can tell, it's a pretty standard webtoon format and business model, not dissimilar to Naver's.

I don't understand two things with Amazon's idea, however. First, why are they starting from scratch? It's not like there aren't plenty of webtoon platforms out there that they could buy up just the same as they bought Comixology back in 2014. They haven't had anything like a webtoon service before, so this all would've had to have been created from the ground up; it's not just an extension of some other service they already provide. This seems like an uncharacteristic approach for them, and one that opens themselves up to a lot of potential pitfalls others -- notably others that are more familiar with comic storytelling -- would have already addressed.

Second, why tackle webtoons at all? I mean, the obvious answer of trying to capture some segment of an audience using a popular format but, given the other business opportunties they've got available, do they really think webtoons is the way to go? That the opportunity cost of not pursuing webtoons is greater than any other avenue? Amazon has already proven pretty conclusively that they don't know what they're doing when it comes to comics -- while Comixology had its flaws, Amazon has introduced many, many more since they bought it. So many, in fact, that I know many people -- myself included -- who've largely dropped reading digital comics entirely because they made the experience so much worse. Amazon has to know about the complaints that have been raised, and how many people have pointed out the number of ways they've made reading comics more difficult. Do they honestly think they've learned enough to create an entirely new comics platform? Sure, they've addressed some of the problems they introduced, but it's almost a decade on and it's still a worse experience than it was before they touched it.

The only thing I can think of is that they do want to buy another platform, but are so uncertain of what's good or bad that they thought it would be cheaper to build their own than try to do any market research? I don't know; that seems a bit far fetched, but I can't think of why they might be pursuing this path otherwise. I obviously don't know what all they're looking at or what their goals are, but this is one I can't even begin to suss out what their thought processes might be. I guess we'll know if their initial tests are successful if they launch the service in the US, but I'm not about to hold my breath.
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Anonymous said...

This reads like Amazon is doing this to mine for IPs. They don't care about the medium, amazon just needs a new idea bank.

That is a possibility, but historically, they usually just purchase/license the ideas from existing material rather than try to cultivate entirely new material.