Amazon has introduced its own virtual currency system. Gamers have long felt at least some sort of dopa-mine charge when coming into pixelated money, but virtual money’s traits has its roots in mainstream marketing, games and motivation systems decades old. Let’s consider what virtual currency is:
- It’s got value. Billions, in fact, in virtual currency circulates our series of tubes (aka the internet) annually.
- It’s motivational. It’s one of the tools used in marketing- like gamification.
- It’s a construct. Because there is no standard but opportunity cost to back it up, virtual currency is a social construct of sorts.
The details behind Amazon’s coin system are interesting- developers will earn commissions (as they do now) for offering apps that will be purchasable through the use of these Amazon coins, which will kick off with a free handful (because the first dose is always free!) and I have no doubt that users are trying to decide if this will more resemble frequent flyer miles or that point when you’re playing Farmville and you run out of seeds and suddenly you’re hit with the invitation to give real actual money. Some argue that real money is also virtual, since it is based on a social construct also.
Developers will see a windfall with the premiere of this service, Users will experience motivation to purchase apps, adding to the transactional enmeshment of devices and apps: Do apps make the device, or do devices dictate the apps? I like to see positives come from technology and motivation, so I will be watching for the bright side. I believe the bright side will be found in another step in our respective capacities to interface with information- but who’s to say the digital divide isn’t found with the late adopters, or at least the choosy adopters, who see every other virtual currency move as .. well .. a currency move? Only time will tell.