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Amazon.com's Web Services Opportunity

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Amazon.com's Web Services Opportunity

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This is my March 8, 2001 pitch to Jeff Bezos on why Amazon ought to offer web services. I'm uploading it now because I'm referencing it in my forthcoming book, WTF: What's the Future and Why It's Up To Us, due from Harper Business in October 2017, and want people to be able to take a look at it. This is of historical interest only.

This is my March 8, 2001 pitch to Jeff Bezos on why Amazon ought to offer web services. I'm uploading it now because I'm referencing it in my forthcoming book, WTF: What's the Future and Why It's Up To Us, due from Harper Business in October 2017, and want people to be able to take a look at it. This is of historical interest only.

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Amazon.com's Web Services Opportunity

  1. Amazon.com’s Web Services Opportunity March 8, 2001
  2. Amazon.com • One of the most recognized brands of the digital age • World’s premier bookseller • A key information service for the book industry • Leading player in other ecommerce markets • Gains market advantage from perception as a leader and innovator
  3. Amazon as an Information Service for the Publishing Industry • Has replaced Books in Print as the most widely-used source of bibliographic information • Descriptions, Covers, TOCs and other rich cataloging data • Ranks and user recommendations provide unique added value
  4. Other Information Assets • Alexa • Internet Movie Database • … Already Amazon is used as an information resource as much as an e-commerce platform.
  5. Web Services • “The network is the computer” • XML interfaces provide programmatic APIs to web-facing databases • Innovation will come from APIs that support “unintended consequences” not vendor lock-in • XML-RPC and SOAP the emerging standards
  6. O’Reilly’s Premises • “The future is here. It’s just not widely distributed yet.” - William Gibson • Innovations show up first in the “hacker” community as independent developers push the boundaries of new technology • “Screen scraping” is a precursor to widespread web services • A platform strategy beats an application strategy every time
  7. Possible Web Services Opportunities for Amazon • Market Research • Amazon-enabled library catalogs • Programmatic purchasing - a next generation affiliates program • B2B integration with suppliers • “Cool” consumer services to build brand - e.g. bibliography generator
  8. The O’Reilly AmaBooks Service • Publisher market research interface to Amazon database • Internal O’Reilly project; other publishers have similar projects • Opportunity to generalize this tool and sell to publishers • Amazon could do this, or could be an Amazon/O’Reilly joint venture
  9. Other Amazon Screen Scrapers Search Engines Public Rank Spiders • http://bibliotrack.com • http://www.amazonscan.com • Many private efforts (O’Reilly, AW, etc.) Price Finders • http://www.isbn.nu • http://books.langenberg.com/ • http://www.bestwebbuys.com/books/ • http://www.addall.com/ • http://www.bublos.com/ Many other specialized programs
  10. Screen Scraping vs. SOAP • Amazon web page for Programming Perl: 68,000 bytes • SOAP response for data we actually need: 700 bytes • 1000 titles: HTML 24,000,000 bytes, SOAP 8000 bytes
  11. The BookScan/BN Service • Publisher access to BN/Borders sales data • Subscription fee from $1500 to $75,000/year • Publisher sales figures only; none of the industry trend insight of an amaBooks type service • We could do much better!
  12. Amazon-Enabled Library Catalogs • Dozens of vendors offer library card cataloging systems • None have the power/flexibility of the Amazon interface • An API would allow those vendors “powered by Amazon” to deliver a superior product • License revenue to Amazon, plus brand reinforcement
  13. Public APIs for Web Services • Establishes Amazon as a platform for community innovation • Affiliate-like self-service setup gets a web services client id • 1000 free queries/day allows experimentation and open source development • Higher-usage services pay for access
  14. The O’Reilly-Amazon Partnership • Prototype interesting services • Fund and spin out those that aren’t core to Amazon or O’Reilly • Have fun • Build our brands and reputations as innovators
  15. Benefits • Establishment of standards • Brand Extension • Revenue • Internal excitement • PR & goodwill
  16. What Would I like Now? • Commitment to a Public SOAP API • Help publicizing the bottom-up web services idea (e.g. Amazon programming contest, keynote at open source conference?) • Indication of interest in commercializing AmaBooks
  17. What Else Should We Do? • Keep involving open source and other independent developers in building the next generation Amazon • Keep in better touch about ways O'Reilly and Amazon can work together • Build relationships with other key internet companies like Google

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