It’s no secret that e-commerce companies in India have been expanding horizontally outside their primary businesses — Flipkart now does flight tickets, and Paytm sells mutual funds. But Amazon has just expanded into a field that’s so far outside its core competence that it takes your breath away — it’s gone ahead and launched an IIT JEE preparation app in India.
Called JEE Ready, the app will conduct a free mock JEE exam for students who download the app and register. “JEE Ready is a free mobile app that lets you test your readiness for JEE Mains examination by taking an All India Mock Test created by experienced faculty members,” says its Play Store page. “You can compare your performance against hundreds of other students, know your strengths and weaknesses, and get a detailed breakdown of your test performance.” The app appears to have been open for a limited trial, and is currently not accepting new users.
JEE Ready says it will conduct the test based on the Class 11 NCERT syllabus, and then tell students where they stand. In true Amazonian fashion, they’ll get data around their preparedness. (Students will) get an in-depth analysis of their test performance with a personalised report,” says the site. Amazon says the app will have “high-quality” test papers that are created by experienced teachers.
It’s not clear how long Amazon has been developing the app for, but it’s certainly not an external project. The app is hosted by Amazon Digital LLC, Amazon’s main account on the Play Store, and the app’s contact email is listed, somewhat surprisingly, as [email protected] JEE Ready also gets its own webpage on Amazon’s main India website.
What’s less clear, though, is why Amazon would venture into the IIT JEE coaching business. It has no clear connect with Amazon’s e-commerce operations, its video arm Amazon Prime, or even its Echo line of speakers. Nor is it a business that, on the face of it, large enough to interest a $1 trillion company like Amazon — there are no dedicated online IIT JEE coaching companies in India that are worth even $1 billion, so if Amazon were to create the best product out there and win the entire space, it would still end up being a rounding error in its overall balance sheet.
But what probably appeals to Amazon about the online education space is the economies of scale that are inherent in the business. Once Amazon’s created the test, each time a person takes the test and pays for it (the mock test on JEE Ready, though, is free for now), Amazon makes money without investing any extra resources. Given Amazon’s reach in India, it can quickly promote its app among its target audience should the pilot project turn out well. The app could also be a clever customer acquisition ploy — upwards of 10 lakh 18 year olds in India write the IIT JEE exam every year, and they could end up being potential users of the app. If Amazon can get these young users on to its platform early, they might end up being Amazon loyalists for decades to come, and end up using its entire suite of services. Whatever the reason behind starting JEE Ready, after starting its e-commerce business, a video arm, home speakers, the world’s largest cloud computing platform, and even flight bookings, Amazon’s clear that it’s well on the way to becoming what it had always intended to become — the Everything Store.