I’ve written quite a lot
about Amazon in TiB
; it’s one of the most interesting and important companies in the world. This week Zack Kanter published perhaps the definitive essay
on its success so far and, perhaps, the seeds of its future failure. It’s long but worth reading in full.
Kanter sees Amazon as an “unbounded” Walmart: Walmart’s obsessive customer obsessiveness, but without the constraints of shelf space and geography. Kanter shows that whenever Amazon hit a bottleneck (onboarding suppliers, deploying code, creating features) it created a platform (Marketplace, AWS, Catalog API). Steve Yegg’s classic post
on the topic is also a must-read. So far this served Amazon well, but Kanter argues that Amazon has made a major mistake in the most recent iteration of this strategy - Amazon Ads. Previous platforms have been pro-customer, but this is pro-seller. Distorting search results undermines Bezos’s claim to run “earth’s most customer centric company”, which gives competitors an in.
What about antitrust
as a threat? Kanter’s take, based on his argument on Amazon’s modular nature, is fascinating and skeptical, :
Antitrust action to break it apart could do nothing that it has not done to itself already; this is no doubt by design
Do read the whole thing.