Sonos founder John MacFarlane’s vision of a connected speaker that could wirelessly stream music was too seductive to resist for a broadband and connectivity junkie like me. Even before the product evolved from a concept to design, I was sold on the idea of Sonos and what it represented. For years, the company’s speakers have been the preferred way of listening to music in my tiny apartment. But it is time to say goodbye to Sonos — though, not for the reason you might think.
Yes, most of my Sonos gear is over a decade old and needs an upgrade. And I’m told their new speakers look nicer and sound better than ever (of course, they only need to sound as good as the high-def stream on Spotify). But I am not going to be upgrading with Sonos. This has nothing to do with their core product. The problem is that they are bundling the speakers with voice assistants, specifically Amazon Alexa and Google Home. Yes, you have to turn on these features and enable them for use, but I remain highly suspicious of what can be done surreptitiously. You can blame it on a growing mistrust of the big tech, and their decision making processes. Continue reading “Hello HomePod. So Long Sonos & Bose”
Despite the hype and extended time, however, social data indicates that consumers — at least those who use Facebook — are steadily losing interest in Prime Day. Compared year over year, this could be a sign that consumers are growing tired of the promotions, the advertising, and the hype. Their attention is also likely thinned out. What was once a 24-hour flash sale is becoming a multi-day affair of marketing and promotion.
My social feeds, my RSS reader, Apple News and pretty much all my information resources are full of mentions of Amazon Prime Day stories and lists of items available from Amazon. I am not in the market for anything, so I am happily ignoring the hype.
We pay a lot of attention to Amazon’s AWS, Prime and Logistics business, but we don’t pay as much attention to something which could become a big business for Amazon: the AmazonBasics private label brand.
The Seattle-based Internet behemoth launched AmazonBasics in 2009, and since then it has added over 2000 products to its private label brand. It accounted for about $7.5 billion in revenues, a drop when compared to $233 billion Amazon brought in 2018. But the potential of this business is pretty high — and according to Joshua Fruhlinger, AmazonBasics are best sellers in 22 out of Amazon’s 51 categories. Interestingly:
While Amazon’s private label is clearly helping to maximize profits, they are rarely #1 sellers. In fact, on average, AmazonBasics products tend to rank somewhere in the middle of the top-100, especially as of late. The only products to average in the top-10 of their Continue reading “AmazonBasics is killing it (& the competition)”
Cory Doctorow, in an opinion piece for the Economist, makes some salient points about challenges and unintended consequences of regulating tech companies. Instead, he proposes what needs to happen. I found myself nodding my head in agreement. The readers here know of my often repeated arguments that big tech giants welcome oversight because it puts the little companies at a disadvantage and thus increasing their grip. Facebook and its fellow giants are enemy of the innovation economy, the very one that allowed them to thrive and become this big. Continue reading “How to deal with Big Tech regulation, smartly”
What is the cost of lies? It’s not that we will mistake them for the truth. The real danger is that, if we hear enough lies, then we no longer recognize the truth at all. What can we do then? What else is left but to abandon even the hope of truth and content ourselves instead with stories? In these stories, it doesn’t matter who the heroes are. All we want to know is who is to blame.
Those are the opening lines of Chernobyl, the much talked about HBO miniseries. Valery Legasov, the chief of the commission investigating the infamous nuclear disaster, utters them before committing suicide. Even after binging all of the first four episodes (the fifth and final one is on Monday, June 3rd), I couldn’t get those initial lines out of my mind. Continue reading “The Cost of Lies”
A former Amazon warehouse worker’s personal and poignant take on — what else? — the Amazon Package. Short, but worthy read.
As someone who spends a lot of time on the beaches and on the coastlines trying to photograph minimal landscapes, I am quite fascinated by driftwood and often wonder about its origins and its impact. Enjoy this wonderful article about the trees that sail to the sea in the Hakai magazine.
In my previous post, I urged you all to take a moment and make some price comparisons before buying from Amazon, which is no longer the cheapest or the best place to buy stuff. Other options are equally convenient — it not as fast — especially when it comes to returning stuff that isn’t up to scratch.
However, in the process of writing that post, I ended up spending a lot of time reading (and re-reading) Jeff Bezos’ letter to Amazon shareholders. Here is some wisdom that can apply to all types of organizations – teams, small startups, partnerships, and large groups.
Bloomberg noticed that Amazon’s retail growth is slowing, especially as brick-and-mortar merchants have stepped up their digital game. Even Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos acknowledged that in his latest shareholder letter. “It’s hard to explain the slowdown in Amazon’s merchandise sales growth,” Bloomberg wondered in their story. I don’t know about the larger macro reasons, but I have my story to share.
I have been a life long Prime customer, and am definitely happy to pay for the premium of getting whatever I want within 48 hour time frame. Prime Now is great. However, lately, I have started to order less and less from Amazon. Just as I have shifted most of my search away from Google, I am not sure I want Amazon to have complete control over my shopping habits. So instead, I am being more unfaithful to Bezos’ bodega.
No matter whether you think Amazon HQ2 in New York was a good or a bad idea, it is worth considering how terrible the execution of the whole affair has been. It all started with the way Amazon conducted the search for the new location. Making a bunch of cities compete in a secret bidding contest may strike some people as brilliant but was always a terrible idea. Didn’t anyone at Amazon think: “Hey we are one of the world’s most valuable companies, run by the world’s richest person and so asking cities to give us massive concessions is not going to look good?” Apparently not, or at least not anyone who dared say it or had any real pull inside the company.
Given its dominance of the e-commerce and cloud services, Amazon, not surprisingly, had a great fourth quarter of 2018. I was checking out their earnings release this morning, and one thing that struck me was the number of times they mention Alexa in the press release — 25.
That’s a lot. But it’s not just that. It is how they talk about it. They are telling us again and again; this is their next big thing. It is going to be perhaps as big as the original Amazon itself. It is going to be their real and meaningful barrier to entry for rivals.
It is not clear about the size of Alexa’s ecosystem presence — Amazon has hinted at about 100 million. In the press release, Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder, and CEO mentioned, that “developers doubled the number of Alexa skills to over 80,000” and humans spoke to “Alexa Continue reading “All About Alexa”
I have such an old fashioned view of marriage, or maybe I am a hopeless romantic to believe in “ever forever together.” (By the way, my old fashioned ideas — they are a result of being the son of a couple that has been together for almost 55 years, so I am kind of a believer, even though I am a bachelor.)
And perhaps that is why I am saddened by the news that Jeff Bezos and his wife of twenty five years, novelist Mackenzie Bezos will divorce. I don’t know both of them personally — though I have met and interacted with Jeff a few times in the past, before he became a superhero.
Soon to be no-longer Mrs. Bezos made a favorable impression when she wrote a spirited defense of Amazon, its history and her husband in her review of The Everything Store. She gave the Continue reading “Sad About Bezos”
One of my favorite Bezo-isms is “Disagree and Commit.” I’ve seen it in articles a handful of times recently as the adulation around Amazon and Bezos’ management reaches a fever pitch.
Notwithstanding the disappointing forecast for Q418, Amazon’s recent operating performance has been spectacular. But, more interesting is that it has been “spectacular at scale” and across a very large and complex business.
While Revenue Growth YOY has been strong,
the real story has been YOY growth in Operating Income.
Those are beautiful numbers. It’s clear that in the past few years the company has turned on the profit machine.
For many years, Amazon (and Bezos) trumpeted their focus on revenue growth. The mantra was “we are reinvesting all of our profits in growth.” This is the same thing most startups say (and most VCs push for) as growth compounds rapidly if you can keep the growth
As the weekend approaches, I sense the need in the universe for some people to find a new TV show to binge watch.
If you fit in this category and haven’t yet watched The Expanse, give it a try. If you are a BSG fan and haven’t seen it yet, start tonight. If you like sci-fi, drama, space opera, global political intrigue, underdogs, detective noir, the risk of mass extinction, and believable human history a few hundred years in the future, this one is for you.
There’s a ton of setup, so you need to hang in there for the first five or so episodes. As the friend who referred me to it stated, it’s “Boring boring PROTOMOLECULE…” You get there quickly enough.
There are three seasons, and Amazon just picked up the fourth, so there is a lot to catch up on along with a future. And, after reflecting
We’ve been a part of Glowforge’s journey to production since even before their record-setting crowdfunding campaign. But the campaign was the moment we knew that we’d found something special: the elusive product-market fit. People really, really wanted the product. Now that it has made its way into thousands of households, we’re seeing something even better. People really, really love their Glowforge.
Of course, all the numbers in the world can’t convey just how awesome their product is until you see it in action. I’ve used mine to make everything from luggage tags to wallets. It’s an
Silicon Valley’s recruiting pitch has long been: Work with us to change the world. Employees are encouraged to make their work life synonymous with their social identity, and many internalize those utopian ideals. “People who signed up to be tech heroes don’t want to be implicated in human rights abuses,” says a senior Google employee.
A close look at the emergence of employee dissent at big tech companies like Google, Amazon, and Microsoft over issues that matter to them. One notable omission: Facebook. Perhaps they think that their company is pristine, flawless.