Thinking About Amazon (Premium)

I am probably one of Amazon's best customers, but I don't really take advantage of their consumer tech products and services. And I have no good answer as to why.

Most people probably think of companies like Apple, Google, or Samsung when it comes to hardware, or specific services like Netflix, Hulu, and Spotify in the consumer space. But Amazon has a hand in each of these pies, so to speak. And it is expanding its presence at a rapid clip.

I pointed out in the past that Amazon's key advantage is that it is the only ecosystem or platform owner that can provide both physical and digital perks. Amazon Prime is the obvious example. This subscription provides free two-day shipping on most physical items for just $99 a year. But Amazon puts Prime over the top by bundling a bunch of digital goodies---Prime Video, Kindle First, Audible Channels for Prime, and many, many others---into the subscription too. No other tech giant mix and match physical and virtual goods like this.

But it is more accurate to say that this capability is only one of Amazon's key advantages. Another is its hard line, aggressive stance on pricing: As the anti-Apple of our age, and to the disadvantage of its competitors, Amazon is the Crazy Eddie of the modern world, and its products and services are generally very inexpensive. So inexpensive that some consumer advocates are crying foul, and accusing the firm of antitrust overreach.

Amazon's response to that criticism would likely be that it is only doing what big retailers have always done. After all, at the height of its market power, Toys R Us used to sell diapers at a loss in order to get mothers into the store so they could shop for other items. That argument is fair on one level. But it's also grossly off-base since Amazon is no traditional retailer (or "e-tailer" as I call it). It's a modern tech behemoth with its tendrils in more markets than anyone can count. I don't believe that there's ever been a company anything like Amazon.

Debating the ethical or moral impact of using Amazon products and services is, perhaps, a story for another time. But you have to feel a bit sorry for any company that finds itself competing with Amazon. No, Amazon doesn't always "win": its music service has never rivaled Spotify or Apple, for example, and Amazon Drive never really threatened OneDrive or Dropbox. But what Amazon does do is show up. And thanks to its enormous customer base, it has a built-in audience for virtually any product or service it desires to create.

The genius of this situation ties into to my original point about mixing physical and virtual goods. A service like Amazon Drive would never make it on its own, and Amazon doesn't really have any compelling related services---Amazon Photos, which does exist, or a cloud-based productivity suite, which is in the works---that could justify its existence either.

But Amazon Drive, like many other Amazon offerings, can continue forward because it is, in pa...

Gain unlimited access to Premium articles.

With technology shaping our everyday lives, how could we not dig deeper?

Thurrott Premium delivers an honest and thorough perspective about the technologies we use and rely on everyday. Discover deeper content as a Premium member.

Tagged with

Share post

Please check our Community Guidelines before commenting

Windows Intelligence In Your Inbox

Sign up for our new free newsletter to get three time-saving tips each Friday

"*" indicates required fields

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Thurrott © 2024 Thurrott LLC