Online aggregators and value addition

When I first used Cleartrip, I found it super convenient to be able to compare flight fares across different airlines and be able to see it all on one page. But then, you had to compare fares published across several such flight aggregators like Yatra.com, Makemytrip.com, youaregoinginsanedoingthis.com and what not! I juggled multiple windows until we had skyscanner.com. But then again, you’d to compare this with kayak.com, etc. Was this ever going to stop?!! I recently read about an app created by some guy in bangalore that aggregates olacabs, uber, etc which themselves are apps that aggregates taxis. He argued that he only created it since it made things more convenient for him and he wanted to share this convenience with others. There’s a cost to this convenience. For instance, most airline fares are far cheaper on the airlines website than on these aggregators since the airlines have realised that they can drive sales by incentivising loyalty over commissions to aggregators.

This whole ordeal of app for an app for an app reminds me of this scene (At 3:47 in the movie) from this Kannada movie called “Yadurmane ganda pakkad mane hendthi”, where actor Shashi Kumar puts money into a box and then puts this box into another box and then this into an another one and so on but you’ll see that the value really only lies in the inner most box. Similarly, in comparison to the airline itself, these apps across multiple levels are adding so little value. It is so easy to create these apps today that everybody wants to create one! The cost of innovation is so high that you’d rather just build an app for an app for an innovation, right? Engineering schools are churning out more and more of these quick returns seeking, short term visionaries and it’s going to be a few decades before products over services stand at the forefront of development!

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