Results tagged “amazon”

Being too close to a project

By Michael Mulvey on July 29, 2014 9:00 AM

It sure seems like Amazon, and really, every company could benefit from some sort of Vice President of Devil's Advocacy. That is, someone who looks at a product just about to launch and points out all the reasons it will fail.

It was said the Steve Jobs served a similar role throughout his years at Apple. He'd be presented with a product and more often than not, he'd rip it apart. He was even known to cancel launches at the last minute if he didn't feel like something was up to snuff.

But Jobs was also undoubtedly deeply involved in the creation of these products. He was the rare visionary who could step back and see the forest through the trees. (And even he had missteps --plenty of them.)

—MG Siegler, The VP of Devil's Advocacy

I Am On Amazon, Therefore I Exist

By Michael Mulvey on July 8, 2014 9:15 AM

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

User, Consumer, Employee & Person

By Michael Mulvey on June 18, 2014 9:24 AM

Google sees you as a user, Amazon sees you as a consumer, Microsoft sees you as an employee (though they're trying to change that).

Apple sees you as a person, but one at leisure who doesn't want to be using a computer in the first place.


An Update on the Kindle Update, Updated

By Bryan Larrick on June 10, 2014 10:26 AM

Kindle version 4.3 was released today, and it has some great features, including the ability listen to audiobooks directly in the app. But...does it have scrolling view yet? No, it does not.

The Great Un-Cabling

By Michael Mulvey on May 23, 2014 9:14 AM

In the world of mobile applications and social networking, a term was coined earlier this year for the splitting up of services into smaller, more focused apps: The Great Unbundling. Foursquare, Google, Facebook and Dropbox are a few of the big dogs who started the trend.

Now it seems we're seeing something similar happen in the world of television. The Great Un-Cabling, if you will.

HBO is making a handful of its shows available on Amazon's Prime Instant Video service. Netflix is also on a successful roll with 10 new and returning original series in 2014.

Cable companies say they have to bundle everything together to pay for the good stuff like HBO and Showtime, but their business models are becoming less and less relevant.

First-Sale Doctrine Ain't In Effect, Yo

By Michael Mulvey on April 30, 2014 11:35 AM

Joel Johnson from NBC New on the licensing around digital purchases from Amazon:

The core issue might actually be a simple matter of semantics: when we click a digital button that is labelled "Buy," we expect that we're actually buying something. But we're not buying anything, we're licensing it. Just last year, the Supreme Court ruled that the first-sale doctrine does not apply to software -- or e-books. Or apps. Nor pretty much everything you "Buy" online that doesn't get shipped to your home in a cardboard box.

The perpetual tug-of-war between content wanting to be free and companies trying to lock it down continues.

An Update on the Kindle Update

By Bryan Larrick on April 25, 2014 6:49 AM

Kindle for iOS, version 4.2 was released the other day. New features include easier access to the table of contents of books, and something called X-Ray Smart Look-Up. It's a welcome addition, actually. But, has continuous scrolling, one feature that has been missing for years, been added yet?

No, it has not.

Say It, Busey

By Michael Mulvey on April 11, 2014 10:18 AM


Really, Amazon?

Retail Reinvented

By Michael Mulvey on April 4, 2014 5:05 PM

Amazon continues to chip away on tradition retail stores.

Interesting shit indeed.


Anticipatory Shipping

By Michael Mulvey on January 20, 2014 8:34 AM

People are all up in arms about Google buying Nest and knowing even MORE about you, but don't forget about Amazon:

Drawing on its massive store of customer data, Amazon plans on shipping you items it thinks you'll like before you click the purchase button. The company today gained a new patent for "anticipatory shipping," a system that allows Amazon to send items to shipping hubs in areas where it believes said item will sell well. This new scheme will potentially cut delivery times down, and put the online vendor ahead of its real-world counterparts.

Hey, Amazon, I do want that Rancilio Espresso Machine, but I can't afford it, so don't you dare ship it to me.

The Same Typeface Bolded

By Michael Mulvey on October 28, 2013 9:14 AM

An Amazon employee from 1997-2004, Eugene Wei spells things out for people who still parrot out the lazy argument around Amazon's profitless business model:

Amazon has seen that lowering its shipping costs and increasing the speed of shipping items to customers is like a shot of adrenaline to customer's propensity to buy from them, and so it has doubled down on building more and more fulfillment centers around the world. When I joined Amazon it had one fulfillment center. Today it has dozens just in the US alone, and I would not be surprised if it has more than 100 fulfillment centers worldwide now.

That is a gargantuan investment, billions of dollars worth, and it takes a significant bite out of Amazon's free cash flow. Add in its investments in infrastructure to support a growing AWS client base, and Amazon has again hiked its fixed cost base to a higher plateau. But for Amazon this is nothing new, it's just the same typeface bolded.


But Jeff [Bezos] is not wired that way. There are very few people in technology and business who are what I'd call apex predators. Jeff is one of them, the most patient and intelligent one I've met in my life. An apex predator doesn't wake up one day and decide it is done hunting. Right now I envision only one throttle to Jeff's ambitions and it is human mortality, but I would not be surprised if one day he announced he'd started another side project with Peter Thiel to work on a method of achieving immortality.

As Eugene points out, the people who bitch and moan about the profitlessness of Amazon sound a lot like the people who bitch and moan about the slow, deliberate iterations Apple has with its products.

The Message

By Michael Mulvey on September 10, 2012 5:19 PM

When Apple makes a new product, usually the message is, "Can you believe how great this is?"

And when Amazon makes a new product, usually the message is, "Can you believe how cheap this is?"

Marco Arment

The New Kindles

By Michael Mulvey on September 6, 2012 2:53 PM

Very smart and interesting developments happening right now at Amazon's Kindle Event in LA.

They're clearly putting a lot of thought behind what reading and video-watching experiences should be (and taking advantage of their properties like IMDB in interesting ways).

But the realization I'm left with is that Amazon (still) sees the tablet primarily as a consumption device. Yes, they include Exchange email support and calendar integration, but those are secondary. Perhaps this consumption focus is due to the fact that not only do they want to sell their own content, but also because they've forked the Android operating system and thus can't guarantee Android applications (ones for productivity, not consumption) will work on it.

It will be interesting to see how well these new Kindles do in the market.


By Bryan Larrick on September 2, 2012 1:38 PM

The latest update (3.2) to the iOS Kindle app is out, and it is steadily improving on the iPad, although in incremental steps. The most significant change iPad users will see is the introduction of changeable margins, mirroring a feature already present for Android users. Users can now select between three different options, illustrated below:


The first option, on the left, is close to the margins in the regressed update I covered in June, but there is a more comfortable amount of white space above and below the text. It's a little crowded, but much easier on the eye than the blocky mess from the end of spring, which caused howls of protest on the app's store page.

The best readability comes with the other two options. The second option is identical in width to the July update, with the text moved up slightly, while the third has left and right margins identical to that which was banished in the June update, with the leading opened up some. All in all, these three represent fine options for a user to choose from. In the future, it would be nice to see the app incorporate different fonts. The iBooks app, Apple's answer to Kindle, lets a user choose from seven different fonts, while Stanza, the now unsupported reader app that Amazon owns, lets the user choose from all the system fonts that were available at the time of its final update in 2011. Once again, it boggles the mind that Amazon has a readily available reader app that is better designed and continues to draw nothing from it, that a user can see, at least.

Another feature from Stanza that I love is the ability to change the brightness of the screen with a finger swipe, rather than having to go into the options menu. It's great for maintaining flow while reading. Curiously, the new Kindle update touts improved brightness controls, but what they seem to have done is lock the brightness with the iPad. That is, if a user changes the brightness controls within the Kindle app, it changes the brightness across the entire iPad, not just within the app. This is very odd.

Still, Kindle version 3.2 for the iPad is keeping pace with reader apps in general, as they go through the long process of becoming viable alternatives to printed books. Presentation is key. As soon as all reader apps figure this out, users will benefit greatly.


By Michael Mulvey on August 16, 2012 8:56 PM

US State Department cancels no-bid Kindle contract

Prior to payment and delivery, the US State Department has torpedoed its $16.5 million contract with Amazon, proposed in June, for Kindle e-book readers. The contract is headed to a normal Request for Information process, rather than the no-bid award that Amazon was initially selected to fulfill. The program was intended for use in overseas language programs, and any device chosen would have to support wireless connectivity, central management, text-to-speech, long battery life and a number of other requirements.

Translation: the US State Department realized the Kindle sucks.

Next time, Amazon. Next time.


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