It started with the BBC about 30 minutes ago, 30 minutes after they released ‘Amazon v EU: Has the online giant met his match’, the title intrigued me and anyone who wants to go after Bezos and his haircut is allowed to do so, yet the EU tends to not care about anyone’s haircut, so I decided to have a calm read of it.
Certain things made sense, yet a much larger part does not anto illustrate it, I start with a quote on the article: “The EU now looks set to charge Amazon for anti-competitive behaviour. This could cost Amazon a lot of money and could alter the shopping experience it offers customers.” To understand this I need to take you on a little time trip, my initial stage of Amazon was seen in 1994, I heard of it in its beginning and to me Amazon made no sense. You see, I grew up in the Netherlands, and for the most, any shop, in any retail area was never more than a hour away, optionally up to 2 hours if it was an exotic item (weapons, drugs) I had access to most items ever needed, as such Amazon made no sense at all. In 1997 I visited the US for the first time and Amazon started making sense. You see there are massive differences between the US and EU in certain ways and most people in the EU might not have gotten it. Amazon was an innovative player and came up and matured a retail direction. So when we get EU’s competition enforcer Margrethe Vestager stating “We never accept in a football match that one team was also judging the game”, I merely wonder what her game is. And the setting of anti-competition law makes no sense. It makes no sense, because for close to 25 years others refused to go into the Amazon direction, as they remained in denial of what could happen. They remained in denial because they were iterative and small minded, they want the technology of others to come to them for free. And that is a thought that murders innovation. We see it in almost every area of technology. I worked for a company that stopped Facebook innovation 4 years before Facebook was created. Bullet point spreadsheet users who rely on the mission statement and the bottom dollar. They are left on the sidelines guarding iterative traffic. They feel that their option grants them more personal wealth. Now, anyone who has read my blog knows that I am no Jeff Bezos fan, but this he got right and the entire Covid-19 issue worked for him and now the champions of iteration (like EU’s competition enforcer Margrethe Vestager) are setting up shop to murder innovation a little more. You see the others now want the Amazon system for free, they want to enjoy the decades they were not working on innovation and merely (optionally) fucking their mistress whilst they claimed they were hard at work guiding their commision like it was a taxi meter.
When I gave the stage of setting tax laws properly in 1998, people accused me that it was too complex and nothing was done, now that these firms are raking in the billions, those same people are staring at the sky stating that there was nothing they could do, but they merely ignore their own inactions.
Yet the larger concern is the stage that erupts when we see “It runs an online store and also sells its own products on that platform. The criticism is, that it’s both the player and the referee.” Yes, Google and Amazon innovated retail traffic, after the Netscape issues Microsoft hid in the IE cloud they created and IBM never showed interest, they merely did their own less profitable thing and now they want to push in on a market that had evolved for well over a decade and does fine without them. Microsoft came up with Bing a decade after Google and still has no proper way to set the algorithm for ranking, and misses out on a decade of data, which is how I see it. IBM has its own innovation (Quantum computing) and is still 2-5 years away from innovating that field, the rest of them are innovation candle holders at best.
Yet I cannot completely ignore that the EU has optionally a case to bring, yet their own inadequacies regarding the mapping of the other players that never showed any interest in innovating the field Amazon is in is also food for thought. Those iterative players that will only step in on the second tier after the innovator has proven their case, how is there any level of fairness to give them the playing field?
So when we see: “is the company using that data to give Amazon’s own products an unfair advantage?” I cannot completely disagree, yet the larger issue is that Amazon created a level of data collection that other data dogs refused to bark at. Now we all can agree that not every retail shop can wield such data and they should not get hit, yet this stage that Amazon has was in the UK going on for a long time via Dunnhumby did for Tesco and in The Netherlands it was Albert Heijn (et al) and their Air Miles. If you go after one, you need to go after all and that is not happening is it? Yet there is a size difference, but none of them came with an overlay of algorithm and made sense of it, they all wanted their own little corner, the innovation of Amazon was larger than that and everyone was in that selfish stage until they all learned (the hard way) that their way was the losing one.
In all this Amazon is not completely innocent, yet that does not mean that they are guilty. The question we see: “But does Amazon unfairly promote its own products at the expense of third parties?” is woefully incomplete. The issue (just like with Google) is not on what is offered, but what EXACTLY did the searcher ask for? It is a huge part in all this and it is left on the sidelines, optionally intentionally and that hurts, because in all this the central side is not the sellers, or the implied sellers, what did the buyer exactly ask for and that matters, especially in the case of Amazon. The buyer did not ask for “A western where we see Talulah Riley naked with loads of added violence in the highest resolution”, they asked for “Westworld season 2 bluray”, and those two searches are not the same. We can come up with a lot more examples, but I hope that the point comes across. We forget that the largest issue is what the buyer seeks and the bulk want the latest products, they want the ones that ship immediately and can we honestly say that the founding setting of the product sought has all the elements in place (like shipping and overnight shipping options) are these elements properly set to those other sellers? You see, the backwash on what is optionally possible is one thing, the fact that these shops set up the parameters of what can be done in comparison of what is done are two different universes.
For example, I cannot get to ‘there’ from ‘here’ in Google maps. These two locations are not defined, so when someone is looking at the Sombrero galaxy, it does not mean that there is a path getting there.
It is the innuendo and the missing elements that make some strike out, optionally murdering innovation. Whilst we see: “The general defence is that there are plenty of companies that act as both a shop and supplier. Tesco and Sainsbury’s both sell their own labelled products in their stores, for example.” a setting duplicated in NEARLY EVERY OTHER country. Pretty much every supermarket chain has that setting, and it is ignored, because they are ‘too small’. I believe that the stage is different, as I stated, the others refused to adhere to the needs of the seeker, the consumer. As such they are out of the online game and that part is surprisingly overlooked. It is not the business of Amazon (or Google for that matter) to fill in the blanks, if Bing does that, perhaps it might have a future to some.
It is our task to protect innovation, there is too little of it (not what a marketing manager claims is innovation, but actual innovation) if we do not, we merely end up fuelling the EU gravy train and those people need to focus on actual issues, not their gravy train. In this I am not stating that Amazon is completely innocent, I am merely stating that there are a few sides that some people left in the dark. To illustrate this I entered “buy arkham knight ps4”, the results in Bing and Google are very different, bing seems to be all about ebay, that same search in Google and Amazon give a much better result, they gave me what I was looking for. I personally was not looking for ebay options, yet was that part of the equation given?
The buyer is the larger part in all this and most screamers forgot about that part.