Are we being tracked by MoviePass?

Since the modern age of breakthroughs in science and technology, some people have been rather suspicious of the government’s intention for quite some time now. This is evidently elucidated in the phrase “Big Brother”, who is supposedly watching and spying on our every move. “Big Brother” also commonly refers to the seemingly authoritarian regime as some believe that the government is more involved in our lives than it seems with the help of surveillance ubiquitously. Nonetheless, recent news reveals the actual antagonist in this dynamic that, much to everyone’s surprise, is a movie app. This revelation was disclosed by Mitch Lowe, the CEO of MoviePass, a week earlier. He allegedly spilled the beans about the way the app could track the client’s whereabouts, before and after a movie.

During an Entertainment Finance Forum, Lowe played a part as a keynote speaker, who, interestingly enough, named the title of the speech as, “Data is the New Oil: How will MoviePass Monetize it?”. From the self-explanatory title, it is no wonder that he subsequently took pride in the substantial amount of data and information on clients’ locations even after they have left the theatre. From Lowe’s responses, it seems that the reason for such actions lies in the profit motive, attributable to capitalism, the great motivator.

In another interview that took place over six months ago, Lowe explained his main intentions in retaining this information. He mentioned the possibility of transforming a movie night into a long line of business transactions. In short, with the information on places that the clients’ frequently visit, MoviePass could attempt to promote package deals involving those places in the sale of movie tickets since they now have the statistical evidence of potential patrons.

“The second thing we’re going to do with data… is we think going to the movies is a centerpiece for a lot of other transactions. You know, going to dinner, getting drinks, taking Uber, and we’re going to be working with local merchants around the theaters, and around the malls to drive more people to those businesses. And take a share to drive transactions,” Lowe coherently articulated in the same interview.

In the more recent interview, Lowe apparently suggests a call on commission from other businesses that are profiting from his actions, such as the dining establishments that are recommended by MoviePass. Though attempts to acquire more specifics have been made, no additional comments have been made. All we know now is that MoviePass has the intention to infiltrate the clients’ privacy in order to expand their profit margins.

Should clients be more informed about such a breach in security? Through a thorough reading of the privacy policy of MoviePass, it seems that they only ask for permission to access location once in the selection of a movie theatre. The app proceeds to explain that the need for these data is to further enhance and upgrade the service provided.

Once again, the consumers have become yet another pawn in the capitalist system. As we approach late capitalism, the measures taken by large corporations in order to maximize their profits have gotten more extreme. An unintentional error initiated by the firm could ultimately lead to the disclosure of our confidential information, without a say on our part. This is no longer a simple strategy deployed by a profit-making company, or Lowe for that matter. This is a potentially life-threatening situation that consumers should be cautious of. In this late capitalism era that the United States have come so far to achieve, no longer are things as simple as they seem. Consumers need to learn to filter the information that is presented to them as well as being more astute in performing daily tasks.

Featured Image via MoviePass

Starbucks’ Digital Flywheel Will Track Consumer Preferences Come Fall

Starbucks is set to expand its mobile, “cloud-based” Digital Flywheel technology this fall, Michelle Lodge of The Street reports. The new and improved app, which will be available only to members of Starbucks’ rewards program, will track customers’ ordering patterns, and use “real-time triggers and push notifications” to suggest orders tailored based on a customer’s taste, as well as on factors as specific as the weather, the day of the week, and the occasion

Customers will see different suggestions when it is raining than they will when it is sunny. On a customer’s birthday, the app will recommend something special. The Monday after, it may suggest an extra shot or two of caffeine.

When Starbucks first announced Digital Flywheel in December, CTO Gerri Martin-Flickinger said the app would include a streamlined payment process and a “compelling” rewards program, Dan Richman of Geekwire wrote in December.

The enhancement of the app comes as mobile transactions constitute an increasing percentage of Starbucks’ revenue. The ubiquitous coffee chain still conducts 2.5 times as many in-store transactions as mobile transactions, according to Stifel analyst Mark Astrachan, but mobile sales are trending upward, while traditional sales are falling.

Although the growth of “mobile transactions per sale” has slowed over the past two years, it has risen by a margin of more than ten percent year over year for the last two quarters, Astrachan says. Meanwhile, “non-mobile transactions per store… has declined low double-digits for the past four quarters, with the two-year CAGR [compound annual growth rate] decelerating for the past seven quarters.”

8-9 million of Starbucks’ 13 million rewards members—just under 70%—are mobile customers.

Starbucks’ stock has been on the decline since early June. From June 2 to July 24, shares fell over 9%. Since Friday, the stock has fallen more another nine percent, despite a brief spike in early Monday. which was quickly followed by a proportionate drop.

“The fact that the stock has tumbled is a reflection of what happens in the face of disruption,” said Brian Solis, an analyst and futurist at Altimeter. “Shareholders tend to want shorter-term results, versus longer-term investments.”

Solis remains a proponent of Starbucks, and of Digital Flywheel, and has urged investors to capitalize on the dip in the coffee chain’s market value by snapping up shares while they are low. He says Starbucks is on the cutting edge of the industry with its new technology.

“Mobile is one of many promises in which Starbucks is going to grow,” he said. “That is because we are on the forefront of a new movement in consumer engagement, which marries mobile, loyalty and sales with AI to deliver extreme personalization, which Starbucks, is priming itself for and consumers are going to start demanding more.”

Solis believes the app will “engage customers more deeply, building on the momentum that is generating the higher spend per members.”

“Starbucks is one of the best companies in the world that connects brand, user and consumer experience between digital, mobile and the real world,” Solis adds. “They are still pushing forward, rolling out their Digital Flywheel strategy to be more dynamic and to further integrate digital and real world.”

The Digital Flywheel project was spearheaded by Tal Saraf, whom Starbucks hired on in October as its “senior vice president of engineering and architecture,” according to Richman’s aforementioned report.  Saraf has worked for the likes of Microsoft, Amazon, and Cisco, focusing largely on cloud-based services like Amazon’s CloudFront “content-delivery network” and Cisco’s Intercloud.

The AI behind the app may be among the most advanced ever employed in the eCommerce space, and it seems it will make human beings’ lives far easier. Everybody has at one time or another been stuck behind the guy who takes fifteen minutes to order his “grande mocha frappachino with room and half a shot of expresso and a double shot of…”

With digital flywheel, he can order the same thing without saying a word.