Shostack + Friends Blog Archive


Amazon (3 Comments on SteveC)

Something about a post by Steve got to me…

Whenever amazon comes up in conversation I tell people how particularly behind they are but I don’t think I get the point across.

Who does better? I find that it always works better to say who does well, rather than who does poorly. Let people figure out the latter on their own.

Take a design perspective on amazon. Their website is basically crap. It has accreted so much its like a ship covered in barnacles with the hull removed – you can use the shell of barnacles itself to sail upon. Consider the simple task of finding recommendations of items to buy. You’d think they’d subtract items you have bought from them or items already on your wishlist from that, but no. Its such a simple thing, the kind of thing you don’t want them to miss. The kind of thing Apple would pick up on but Microsoft not.

Do they not have that? For a while the US site had a “I already have this” checkbox…I never checked it because its none of their business. I mind telling them what I own and I mind their assumption that if I own it I like it, more than I mind seeing extra items in the suggestion box.

And finally, with regard to the “smell of desperation,” if I can sell you a credit card at 12%, borrow money from the fed at 2, and pay someone else 5% to manage the accounts, then I’m making a risk free 5% on my money. (I don’t know if I can offload management and non-payment risk at the same time.) Now, that’s not a brilliant return, but given that Amazon has chosen to hold onto a lot of cash, making a low risk 5% seems like a fine bit of financial engineering.