Amazon versus everybody – Business Insider – Business Insider


jeffbezos1
Amazon CEO Jeff
Bezos

AP

There’s a great part at the beginning of the movie “Raiders
of the Lost Ark,” where, in a moment of triumph, the villainous
Belloq gloats to Indiana Jones that “again we see there is
nothing you can possess which I cannot take away
.”

If I were
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos
, I would get this quote
inscribed on a wall plaque in my office. 

That’s not to imply in any way that Bezos is a villain. But
to his competitors, the Amazon CEO and founder is proving
frustratingly adept at eating into their businesses.

Just this week, for instance: 


  • The Information reported
    that Amazon Web Services is at
    work on upgrading its productivity software, with an eye
    towards taking on Microsoft Office 365 and Google’s G Suite.
    Amazon declined to comment, but the
    report does come just a week after
    AWS launched Chime
    , its own take on Skype.
  • The Amazon Alexa voice assistant now has
    10,000 “skills,”
    including the ability to place a Starbucks
    order or track a UPS package by talking to your phone or Amazon
    Echo device. That’s double the 5,000 skills it had in December
    2016. And it’s a reflection of Amazon’s strength
    in voice assistants, which could spell trouble for Google
    most of all.
  • Amazon restructured its affiliate program,
    which gives money to website operators based on the traffic
    they drive to Amazon, halving the fees it pays out for
    sales of electronics. Media websites like Business Insider
    and Wirecutter (a New York Times subsidiary) rely on Amazon
    affiliate links for a portion of revenue. 

And that’s beyond the broader moves Amazon has made in the last
year or so, including, but not limited to, competing
with FedEx and UPS
by moving into logistics and delivery
and putting
pressure on Google and Facebook
by digging in on online
advertising.


Amazon Prime Air drone
This Amazon Prime Air drone is being tested for quick
deliveries.

Amazon

Not to mention that Amazon is fighting Microsoft and Google in
the
ongoing cloud computing wars
. Or the
back-and-forth with Walmart over free shipping minimums
. Or
the fact that Amazon Prime Video is
taking business away from physical retail stores
. Or that
Amazon is launching
a line of $10 bras
 to fight Target and Walmart. Or that

Amazon is taking on Grubhub
for restaurant delivery.

In short, in often seems that Amazon is fighting everybody, all
the time. 

The scary part

Scarier still for competitors, Amazon’s business model gives it a
tremendous edge: With
Amazon Prime
, especially, Amazon makes it easier to buy
physical and digital goods, to the point where you’d never even
think to look elsewhere. From there, the company can sell at
razor-thin margins, because once you’re hooked, you’ll buy at
volume. 

And in the same way that Facebook has shown that it’s willing to
just straight-up copy competitors like Snapchat if it serves its
ends, Amazon has made it clear that nothing is off limits. While
a
crazy experiment with Wells Fargo
 to offer student loans
through Amazon ended after only six weeks, it shows that the
retail giant is willing to sell anything.

Indeed, Amazon is willing to try stuff and fail. Just weeks
after the Amazon Fire Phone was declared a flop, Amazon debuted
the Echo
, a surprise hit that left Google, Apple, and
Microsoft scrambling to catch up. Meanwhile, every Alexa-powered
device sold is another happy Amazon customer,
across retail and digital music
.


Amazon Echo
Amazon
Echo

AP/Jeff Chiu

So to boil it down, Amazon will sell anything, to anyone, at a
cheaper price than anybody else can afford — and isn’t
afraid to burn money in search of new markets.

For instance, and as pointed out by a
commenter on Hacker News
, it’s possible that the tweaks to
affiliate revenue are a sign that Amazon got what it wanted from
websites that promote its electronics, and is now dialing the
revenue back to drive more traffic back to its site
directly. 

That’s long been the Amazon way, and this week gave us a clear
sign that Jeff Bezos’ so-called “everything
store
” isn’t slowing down in its old age.

A famous quote on competition that’s
long been attributed to Bezos
 is that “your margin
is my opportunity.”

Or, in the words of Belloq, from the
1981 Raiders film, “once again, Jones, what
was briefly yours is now mine.”

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