Home Field Advantage

ProPublica set out to see how Amazon’s software was shaping the marketplace:

We looked at 250 frequently purchased products over several weeks to see which ones were selected for the most prominent placement on Amazon’s virtual shelves — the so-called “buy box” that pops up first as a suggested purchase. About three-quarters of the time, Amazon placed its own products and those of companies that pay for its services in that position even when there were substantially cheaper offers available from others.

I am shocked Amazon would do something to help them make more money.

“…if progress is ever to be made, some opportunities and discoveries will be inconceivable in advance”

My brother Mark wrote an essay on current uproar over ‘No Man’s Sky’. He, like many others, bought the game, but he’s not angry like them.

He makes a distinction between buying something that is and investing in what something can become and draws a great comparison to one of his (and my) favorite scenes from Mad Men:

In my favorite scene of Mad Men, head honcho Don Draper gets into an argument with junior copywriter Peggy Olson in his office after hours. She delivered work the client loved, and while she got paid she never received acknowledgement of her role in the win. With tears in her eyes she finally breaks down and reminds Don she didn’t even get a ‘thank you,’ to which he quickly shouts, “That’s what the money’s for!” You see, Don uses money as a reward, not as encouragement. He’s not an investor in good creative, he’s a consumer of it. He pays for results, not future potential. I think the disappointment we’re seeing among many buyers of No Man’s Sky comes from the fact that what they received is not what they thought they paid for. And perhaps many of those who are content with their purchase see their money more as support for what No Man’s Sky pursued and is possibly becoming, and are enjoying their purchase for what it is and not what they thought it would be.

I see both sides on this. I understand the disappointment, but I also know what to expect by someone who has both backed and also created projects on Kickstarter.

What I would like to see change is more effort on the part of project creators to manage expectations.

Did anything bad ever come from under-promising and over-delivering?

Basic Economy

America’s airlines are introducing a class below economy:

Airlines have long seen profitability in investing heavily in first- and business-class while degrading the flying experience in coach to cut costs. But why stop there? Coach, they have discovered, can itself be subdivided, and then subdivided again. First there was the creation of premium economy, which charges passengers extra for what used to be a standard amount of legroom, and for the exit-row seats that were previously the dominion of in-the-know flyers. Now there is a new class, a cut below standard economy. Please welcome “basic economy”, known to some as “last class”.

Trump doesn’t have to worry about making America great again.

The airlines are doing it for him.

The Post-Retail Landscape

Interesting holiday retail facts from L2 on Youtube:

An unlikely winner? Malls – at least high-end ones, which are flourishing. The top-rated malls of 2015 all had upscale department stores, luxury brand stores and high-tech electronics stores.

An Apple Store increased mall revenue per square foot by 13%. Think about that. Apple is going to start charging malls to be tenants.

I’ve lived most of my life since 2000 in cities (Manhattan, Miami, Los Angeles, and now San Francisco) so I’m not aware of how dire the retail situation is in suburban areas—that is— until I went home to visit my family in New Jersey this past holiday.

It was hard for me to find something as simple as a pair of Chuck Taylors. Back in the day there a Foot Locker about 10 minutes from my parents’ house, but no more.


Kickstarter is ditching Amazon Payments and moving to Stripe:

The move should help Kickstarter in a few ways. Its project creators should be able to get up and running more quickly — they previously had to set up a business account with Amazon, which could take up to seven days for approval, before launching a Kickstarter campaign. Kickstarter campaign backers can also now make their pledges in fewer steps, since they won’t have to leave Kickstarter to pay on Amazon (Kickstarter was using a legacy Amazon Payments product that didn’t allow this; Amazon’s new payments product does). Lastly, Kickstarter can use Stripe to process all the transactions on its platform, both in the U.S. and abroad. Amazon Payments’ lack of international support forced Kickstarter to use another payments processor for overseas campaigns.
I’ve successfully funded two Kickstarter projects (here and here) so anything to make things easier for backers sounds good to me.

I Am On Amazon, Therefore I Exist

To me, the Fire Phone reeks of experiment. I think Amazon’s testing something, and the experiment is important enough to spend a ton of money and create a lot of competitive hostility. After thinking about it a lot and trying to look at the world through Amazon’s eyes, I think I can guess why the Fire Phone would be strategically important to Amazon. I believe it’s not about the phone market; it’s about the evolution of mobile commerce and the future of Amazon itself.
—Michael Mace, The Real Meaning of the Fire Phone

It’s Just Stuff

Great post by Kyle Baxter on how crucial iCloud and Siri are to Apple’s future and why you don’t need all the new shiny products:

It sounds like I’m complaining that today’s event was a let-down, iOS 6 isn’t introducing much worth upgrading for, and the new MacBook Pro is a boring update. That’s not what I’m saying. Actually, each thing Apple announced is impressive and took a massive amount of work. The new MacBook Pro really is the best notebook Apple’s ever shipped, but here’s the thing: their line-up as of 9:59 AM this morning was really, really good too. Apple’s hardware is getting to the point where it’s so good that it’s good enough for nearly everyone, so dramatic improvements like a retina display for Macs is a relatively minor improvement for users. The same goes for iOS.

Remember, Apple makes computers. Every year. That’s how they make money. This does not mean you have to buy them every year. The same way you don’t have to buy a new car every year. Or a new house. Or new boxers.

Sometimes you can go years without buying new versions of those things.



Stand up and declare your independence from corporate chains, mass-produced products, and uninspired junk. #ShopIndie this holiday season to experience the satisfaction of owning a unique item, made with love and attention, direct from the artist themselves.

via Big Cartel



The recently released biography of late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs isn’t the only thing that’s selling well in recent weeks. Apparently shoppers are snatching up the tech icon’s favorite eyeglasses too.

via news.cnet.com