July 01, 2006

Amazon No Longer Relevant

Tech leadership is fleeting - it comes and goes very quickly, and allegiance to one brand or another on the Web is hard to keep, especially in the face of innovative competition.

Amazon.com set the commerce world on its ear in the 1990s by becoming the biggest warehouse in the world - virtually - selling books by the droves, and then adding products of every persuasion, from housewares to clothing, electronics, CDs and DVDs. At one point, I was ordering everything from Amazon - including Christmas presents for the entire family. Our office mail was dominated by these cardboard boxes with the familiar Amazon arrow/smile. It wasn't just me who found the Amazon way incredibly convenient.

I took the next step, driving people to my Amazon Wish List for holidays and birthdays, and believe it or not, when I got engaged in 2003, my wife took the traditional route, registering with Bed, Bath and Beyond, while I again drove everyone to Amazon, using a wedding-themed wish list, where on top of standard items like place settings, sheets and towels, I added DVDs, books and music. A guy's got to have fun, right?

But since then, my Amazon use has almost completely dried up. In 2004, I don't think I ordered a single item. In 2005 and 2006, my use has been paltry, and even that was spurred through others giving me gift certificates.

So, what happened? Why the change? For me, the #1 answer is iTunes. iTunes completely eliminated any need for me to ever order CDs from Amazon.com again. I certainly haven't stopped buying music, but iTunes is always my first stop, and Amazon only works for tracks that never made it to the world's best music application. The second answer would be Netflix. With Netflix, we gain access to DVDs quickly and cheaply, with no need to buy. And the third major reason - shopping search engines like Shopzilla and Froogle can find me the world's best bargains on just about everything else, without favoring Amazon.

Don't get me wrong - I'd rather buy online than offline in almost every case. But Amazon's variety and customer support is no longer such a breakthrough that it was a decade ago. And I can't remember the last time I saw a brown Amazon.com box come into the office. That's so 90s.

Listening to ''Aura'', by Serenade (Play Count: 3)

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