In December last year, Amazon released their video about Amazon Go. It looked like a cool concept to me. But it took Nerdwriter’s video about the plan behind it to make me realise the implications. I strongly suggest to watch his video (and others, they’re all awesome), but if you’re in a reading mood, this post contains a summary of the idea discussed in his video. You’ll also find my closing thoughts at the end.
Amazon Web Services’ roots
The biggest chunk of revenue by Amazon comes in through their web services (not their store!). These services are the systems they built their own store on. They thought that other people might find these services useful as well, and therefore decided to offer it as a product. It now is the most profitable part of what they do, and some juggernauts of companies use it (e.g. Netflix and Reddit).
How Amazon Go will follow the web roots
With Amazon Go, they’ve created a near frictionless shopping experience for physical stores. They currently use one beta store to see if the system works as expected. If so, they’ll roll out more Amazon Go stores and, as they did with their web services, offer the technology behind it to other companies. What grocery store wouldn’t want a frictionless experience for their customers?
What does this mean?
If you take into account that in 2016 Amazon surpassed Google in product searches, and they clearly have plans to add physical retail locations data to their systems with Go, there’s no telling how big Amazon’s potential is. The question is: do we like the idea of one company being in control of that much data?
Personally, stories like this make me think of Dave Egger’s the Circle. In this book, nearly all internet data goes through one company and you read how that company tries to get even more data in, to grow even bigger. I’ve written before on how I think Facebook might become the real life version of this company, I was even surprised by it because I always thought it’d be Google. But now, maybe Amazon is the one to keep an eye on.
My closing thought: the potential of having too many data at the disposal of one company always gives me an itch. An uncomfortable itch.