Sunday, August 17, 2014

Amazon’s Strategy: Horizontal Company, Vertical Devices

Ben Thompson:

I suppose this makes a certain kind of sense, but it reeks of what a former manager of mine calls a “double bank shot.” Amazon seems to be arguing that through this rather convoluted chain of events, all of which carry significant challenges and risks that are outside Amazon’s expertise (content creation, ecosystem development, etc.), they will be better placed to increase e-commerce’s share of retail.

Here’s my question: why not spend all that money – and time and executive attention – on simply growing e-commerce? Instead of pushing for the Prime Rube Goldberg machine, how about simply advertising Prime? And instead of pursuing a separate ecosystem, with all of the challenges and incentive risk that implies, why not focus on both building better apps and on creating partnerships with Apple in particular (who certainly has no intention of competing in e-commerce; Google is obviously much more of a competitor)?

Moreover, I’m concerned about the internal incentives that Amazon is creating for itself. Amazon is increasingly competing with its suppliers, particularly in the digital space, and I just noted that potential partners like Apple are instead rivals. More concerning is the effect of devices on the company’s overall strategy.

Matt Drance:

I think it’s pretty simple: Android + Google Shopping Express + mobile payments completely shut Amazon out of customer engagement.

I don’t really understand the argument that this is a threat to Amazon. Or that, if it is, that this is a response that would work.

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