“Hey guys, have you heard of this new thing called Magic?” Right after I said this, I knew I would get a few people saying, “Wow Mark, did you really just say that?” But I wasn’t talking about the Abra Kadabra stuff we saw at birthday parties as a kid – with that magic I could usually find the secret to the trick. Imagine a type of magic where you are able to text a random number for anything in the world. Then, you receive an estimate as to where and when it will arrive with a price quote. Magic will charge your credit card and then you wait for your order to arrive. Welcome to the magic of Magic.
Magic acts as your “go-to-guy” for anything you need at the tip of your fingers (as long as it’s legal). The examples below show a boyfriend forgetting to get his girlfriend flowers for their anniversary (I promise you this is not a screenshot from my own phone) or a hungry student ordering a large pepperoni pizza and a Diet Coke (no promise that is not me). The Magic operators respond with a confirmation, a price estimate, and a request as to whether or not the user accepts the agreement. Once the user accepts, the credit card is charged (after the operators collect it through a 128-bit encrypted HTTPS link) and the operators place the order. This doesn’t differ much from a normal order process for a service, except for the fact that the user can complete the whole process via text. So what is it that makes Magic unique, and who is it trying to reach?
To start, Magic claims that it can send you anything as long as it is legal to buy or sell. Seems like a pretty hefty promise, especially for users that may be extremely remote. Can I send them an order for In-N-Out all the way from Boston? That certainly may be legal. However, the surcharge on the fee might cost me a pretty penny. According to Business Insider, the operator has the final discretion as to how to place the order, and he or she can either order the item directly online and email it to them (like with plane tickets) or go through another third-party website like Instacart or Seamless. Still, in addition to paying the surcharge associated with the third-party service, Magic also decides to take a cut and add a tip on top of that (hey – with a free texting application that can’t rely on advertisement, they have to make money somehow).
When I first heard out about Magic, I thought there was no way it would catch any sort of traction. What is the draw to texting a number when you can use that same iPhone to go on Seamless or GrubHub and order some food right to your door? Clearly (as with many of my social media assumptions), I was wrong, for Magic received 17,000 text messages in the first 48 hours since launch. Part of it is the crazy promise from the service. When co-founder Mike Chen says that he can deliver anything, he is standing behind the promise. According to TechCrunch, requests in the first two days ranged from sushi on a boat to a tiger delivered to someone’s front door (couldn’t help but make my remember this iconic scene). While there is no confirmation as to whether or not the fury beast was actually delivered or how much that request would cost, the sushi was delivered to the boat, even though Magic they had to scramble to find a way to complete the transaction without the help of a third-part intermediary. Still, they stuck behind their promise, even if it meant sending the co-founder or one of the operators to complete the purchase.
Another draw to the service is the mystery behind it. The company reported text messages from users asking whether or not they are talking to an actual person. Some of them ask if they really can order anything, and they may even be lucky to receive a clever joke back from one of the operators. As we have seen from different social media tactics in this course, the customer enjoys a service or company that has a human on the other end of their tweet, text, or post, especially if that service comes with witty, helpful, and personalized operators. Those interested in the service might test it out to see what it’s all about, and eventually realize the value in transmitting your order through an actual person rather than an online system.
To me, Magic seems to be the friend, parent, or assistant that you need to text in a pinch in order to get a favor. Sure, they will charge you, but their ultimate goal is to facilitate your transaction with ease and make sure that they leave no questions unasked (i.e. whether or not you care if the flight is direct or if you just want the cheapest option). I may be tempted to send in my request for a nice Double-Double Animal Style order from In-N-Out delivered to Boston. The price may be one thing, but the way that they get it to Boston? That, my friend, is where the magic lies.