Thursday, December 23, 2004

Amazon.com's open business plan

Amazon.com has opened it's entire business information through Web services to anyone interested in writing an interface to it. It demands just one thing - that purchases be completed through the company's web site. This model is quite counter-intuitive since it allows for competition to take advantage of the system. It is exactly what Amazon wants. It's opening the Web Services has created a mini-cottage industry of developers and entrepreneurs around it.


Visit Amazon Light at www.kokogiak.com/amazon4, and you’ll see a plain search box that allows you to locate any product in Amazon.com’s database. Click on an item, and you’ll be taken to a page with the usual product image, price information, and customer reviews, and, of course, the familiar “Buy This” button. Amazon Light’s pages are deliberately less cluttered than those at Amazon itself, but the family relationship is obvious.

Look closer, however, and you’ll spot some distinctly non-Amazonian features. If the item you’re viewing is a DVD, for example, there will be a button that lets you see in a single click whether the same disc is for rent at Netflix. If it’s a CD, you can check whether Apple’s iTunes music store has a downloadable version. And if it’s a book, Amazon Light will even tell you whether it’s on the shelf at your local public library.

What’s going on here? Surely, executives at Seattle-based Amazon would never condone an online service that encourages people to buy things from sites other than Amazon?

Actually, they would. Amazon Light, created by former Amazon programmer Alan Taylor and hosted on his personal website, kokogiak.com, is one of thousands of independent sites incorporating the product data and programming tools that Amazon has been sharing freely since July 16, 2002. That’s the day Amazon celebrated its seventh anniversary—and unveiled a startling new project, called Amazon Web Services, that promises to change, once again, the way retailers of all stripes think about reaching their customers.


Amazon: Giving Away the Store

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