Amazon and RIM: Sour Grapes Day and Its Whines

June 30, 2011

Long day for the goose. Most folks heading toward 67 do the golf thing, maybe drink a lunch, or hang out at the mall and check out the walkers. Not me. I was checking out the latest in news and info on the rapidly deteriorating Internet. It is not just the lousy throughput here in Harrod’s Creek, it is the increase in the whine volume. Yep, sour grapes make whine.

The first example is the anonymous letter about the management woes at Research in Motion. Based in Waterloo, the BlackBerry whine maker criticized policies, procedures, innovation, and the furniture. Yep, griping about the office decorations will fix up the BlackBerry orchard in a nonce. You will want to read “Open Letter to BlackBerry Bosses: Senior RIM Exec Tells All as Company Crumbles around Him.” There are some great lines in the letter. The passage I found most amusing was:

Let’s obsess about what is best for the end user. We often make product decisions based on strategic alignment, partner requests or even legal advice — the end user doesn’t care. We simply have to admit that Apple is nailing this and it is one of the reasons they have people lining up overnight at stores around the world, and products sold out for months. These people aren’t hypnotized zombies, they simply love beautifully designed products that are user centric and work how they are supposed to work. Android has a major weakness — it will always lack the simplicity and elegance that comes with end-to-end device software, middleware and hardware control. We really have a great opportunity to build something new and “uniquely BlackBerry” with the QNX platform. Let’s start an internal innovation revival with teams focused on what users will love instead of chasing “feature parity” and feature differentiation for no good reason (Adobe Flash being a major example). When was the last time we pushed out a significant new experience or feature that wasn’t already on other platforms? Rather than constantly mocking iPhone and Android, we should encourage key decision makers across the board to use these products as their primary device for a week or so at a time — yes, on Exchange! This way we can understand why our users are switching and get inspiration as to how we can build our next-gen products even better! It’s incomprehensible that our top software engineers and executives aren’t using or deeply familiar with our competitor’s products.

The snippet has some interesting assertions. Let me squeeze those grapes:

  1. RIM takes guidance from partners and lawyers. Hey, partners and lawyers know what to do. Partners resell and lawyers bill by the hour. A sharp outfit like RIM not be able to climb much higher up the innovation jungle gym unless it pays more attention to partners and lawyers. RIM is on the right track.
  2. Android has “a weakness.” That is one reason why the whiner is not working at Google. Google is the top dog.  Android. Weakness. Oxymoron.
  3. Features. Look. Features made Microsoft Word the outstanding product it is. I find the intelligent reformatting, the wonderful numbering function, the intuitive placement of images, and the lightning fast response regardless of computing platform nearly perfect. RIM needs to work harder to add complex functionality. Stop whining and starting adding more icons, earthworm menus, and ever-so-precise trackball ALT key thingies.

Now read “An Open Letter To Jeff Bezos On Terminating The Amazon Affiliate Program In California.” Like the high pitched scree of the RIM letter,  this epistle makes my ear drums bleed and my frontal lobes throb throb throb. The issue is that a high traffic Web site gets a piece of the action, a commission, a kick back, a bounty, a beak dip, or a cut of what ever a visitor to an affiliate site spends on Amazon.  The world’s smartest man  may struggle with uptime for its blend of open source and proprietary software for webby services things, but TWSM, aka Jeff Bezos, knows how to make money. Here’s a passage I found amusing:

Not only are you [The World’s Smartest Man] sucking purchases (and thus potentially jobs) out of my state and undermining those retailers, but you’re also not letting the state earn off the sales tax like those retailers who actually are based here do. That makes me feel really good as a Californian.

Why should Amazon pay sales tax?

Amazon is a sort of virtual company. It does not drive on the roads of California too often. It does not use the California school or sewer systems all that much, and it does not provide fire protection for TWSM’s Seattle area properties. Why pay for what you do not use, do not need, and do not acknowledge as being relevant to the Amazon implementation of the Walton retail vision built of bits, not bricks?

So what’s with the whining about Amazon’s doing what a company is supposed to do in post crash America? Any nibbling at the edges of Amazon’s  revenue is bad. What is bad for  Amazon is bad for Mr. Bezos. Mr. Bezos wants his way in a manner similar to other  tech titans’ perception of right and proper behavior. This whiner wants an entity in America to be fair. Get with the program. Join Prime. Suck it up and get back to search engine optimization, a field of great value and promise.

So there you have it. Two whines. If I drank, I suppose I could slurp some whine too. I am more of a  commenter and from a goose pond at that. These two whiners are muddying the waters of the way business is conducted in the US today. Get with the program and put a stopper in the whine bottle, please. Honk.

Stephen E Arnold, July 1, 2011

Stephen  E Arnold, described by super real news person Ken Auletta as gruff is the author of the New Landscape of Search, published by Pandia in Oslo, Norway. The monograph is not available for the BlackBerry (I cannot read my screen’s type. Too small.) and not available through Amazon either. I often wonder why I bother to write candid and objective analyses of enterprise search systems. Whining is where it is at for today.


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