Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Quick Hits! 6-17-2008

I came across a great post from Epicenter this morning, which made a very interesting point:

"What sort of no-goodness are Amazon.com and eBay up to? Look no further than the news from overseas.

The two companies seem to have a nifty little trick: If they can't get away with a slightly questionable strategy here in the U.S., they test it out somewhere else."

It appears Amazon UK is not opposed to enforcing their will on publishers in the UK, just as eBay is not opposed to forcing their will on eBay Australia.

While I'm not sure that the Amazon case is really a test; it seems more like a dispute. It is certain the the eBay/PayPal issue in Australia is a test.

The thinking certainly is to use international sites to test new strategies and for the most part I agree with this approach but forcing corporate will on a certain constituency leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

Now for my 12%:

I'm a pretty conservative guy and believe in markets, personal responsibility and all that, but their needs to be a little bit of common sense thrown into to every corporate decision. I know eBay calculates the ROI of every decision, but my guess is that they don't generally add a little old fashioned questioning, "like should we do this". Amazon is no different in that respect.

I wish large corporations would take... I don't know ... maybe just a few seconds to think through their decisions. Just because you can do it, doesn't always mean you should do it.

Amazon has been able to remain above the fray on most things, because they are growing and they take care of their customers, but it is clear that when they have a point they want to make, they it the same way every big corporation does, they force it. According to the NY Times: "Amazon is saying little about its tactics. But bloggers have been organizing letter-writing campaigns and petition drives accusing Amazon, which bills itself as “Earth’s most customer-centric company,” of transforming itself into the bully of the publishing industry."

A few months ago Amazon ticked of self-publishers by insisting they use Booksurge for their publications. So, while eBay has their problems with sellers, Amazon has their issues with publishers and authors.

I am not naive enough to believe that this method of asserting corporate will will ever change, but I can suggest something to 3P merchants out there -- Get your own website.

Certainly, you can use each of these marketplaces to your benefit, but until you have your own place on the web you will always be dependent on them. I am choosing to be dependent on Amazon, much like I chose to be dependent on eBay "back in the day," but I am clear with my reasons this time. Now, I am a blogger who sells media items to support his blogging habit. Then I was an eBay sellers who was "fat and happy".

A healthy skepticism about each marketplace you work with will go a long way to help you maintain your independence.

See, I'm an equal opportunity critic. Now back to your regularly scheduled eBay bashing and my Amazon pumping.


Anonymous said...

I'm conservative-minded when it comes to business and free markets as well, but I think there needs to be Captialism is the best system out there in my opinion, but man does it corrupt. You need liberal checks and balances sometimes, to make sure the corruption doesn't get out of control.

Randy Smythe said...

Anonymous, it is too much to hope that any corporation will even think about the right thing to do. It isn't in their DNA.

Anonymous said...

You had a corporation with GB, was it in your DNA to do the right thing?

Randy Smythe said...

I meant big corporations. The little guys can do whatever they want :)