So, around five years ago at the very height of the growth of Facebook (and social media), Google (and analytics, adverts and personalisation) and Apple (devices, iTunes etc.) I made a bit of a dick of myself and mentioned to a few close friends that I thought Amazon would be the last one standing.
Quite rightly, at the time, they were somewhat suspicious that I actually knew what I was talking about – I mean – look at what was going on at the time – everyone was sweeping across to FB, people were pouring the vast majority of their digital marketing budgets into PPC and SEO and (and this has remined the same) – Apple products were still the most desirable in the market.
But, at the time I couldn’t get past the fact that people still consumed. They still wanted stuff. Everything that people talked about on Facebook, everything they viewed in their search results and Apple’s increasingly attractive competitor products was available via Amazon.
Then Amazon got serious;
· They created the marketplace.
· They produced data mining services.
· They got into their own content.
· They created a suite of cloud hosting and management services.
· They ramped up their product development.
It goes without saying but each of these is a strategic step up – focusing on ensuring that Amazon is the largest and most powerful business globally. Viewing each briefly from a practical viewpoint.
· The marketplace – increases the reach in terms of products, niche markets and providers – whilst reducing the cost of storage, logistics and management. And of course, puts the risk of customer satisfaction onto the seller.
· Data mining services (via Mechanical Turk) simple allows Amazon access to large swathes of (what appeared to be unrelated) customer data in return for huge, fast and accurate data processing.
· Content creation was a huge leap forward for Amazon. Not just in terms of being able to produce and influence their own content but to shape it towards the buying and interest behaviour of its customers. Netflix is a superior model in terms of its viewers watching and advertising habits – Amazon is light years ahead in terms of being able to link viewing behaviours with product and buying opportunities.
· Developing cloud-based hosting and web services – using their scale to attract many of their competitors (in various markets) to move their digital and technical infrastructure across to AWS.
· They learnt from the Kindle, the Fire, their phone (remember that) and rather than focus on a historical way of interacting with tech and each other – they looked forward and focused on voice. Then they threw the kitchen sink at it.
Looking at the admittedly small list above – there is one constant theme running throughout -
· Sellers and retailers are reliant on Amazon (via the marketplace) to gain access to customers and product visibility.
· Corporates are reliant on Amazon to process large swathes of data (via Mechanical Turk) to allow the identification of the smallest of trends.
· Content creators and production houses are becoming ever more reliant on Amazon to support the conception and circulation of their ideas.
· The very businesses that see Amazon as their biggest competitor and threat to their existence rely on Amazon (from a cost perspective) to host their web and (in many cases) infrastructure services and platforms.
· Alexa could well be a complete winner in terms of the future of internet interactions – specifically in the purchasing funnel. We could become reliant on their platform and hardware to complete a huge number of our transactions.
And standing at the tip of the reliance triangle are us - people, consumers, users, customers…..all internet roads could really lead back to Amazon.
But where does this leave GAFA (Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon) in terms of perception, connectivity and emotional intelligence (the most precious of human commodities)?
· Apple generate emotion in terms of the beauty of their products.
· Facebook generate emotion in terms of making social connections. Although this is somewhat being lost in the race to push brand content.
· Google create a technical masterpiece hiding behind a search box that is so ubiquitous as to become invisible. They connect to techies through being somewhat invisible.
· Amazon get humans in a very cold and commercial way. Not with an ethical and emotionally intelligent view (whatever they say) but they connect directly to people in their homes in a very real and manifest way.
So, going back to the beginning of this ramble – maybe its five years later than I originally thought - but maybe Amazon, if they are not the last one standing are likely be the most relied up and by default the most powerful.