Amazon: The Bezos Bulldozer Shoves Customers and Crushes Competitors

November 11, 2022

The myth of the enlightened technology company led by an ethical, socially-minded leadership team seems to be dissipating like fog in a Kentucky hollow on a spring morning. Whether it was the craziness of blue and gray checks on Twitter or the public confessions of the Zuck, there is mounting evidence that knowledge of programming does not translate into effective management. In our nifty money centric country,  money means brilliance, leadership skills, wisdom, and a quantum link to JP Morgan, Jay Gould, Andrew Carnegie, et al.

I want to shift from the public chaos to an interesting article from a Silicon Valley type of “real” news outfit. The article which caught my attention is “Basically Everything on Amazon Has Become an Ad.” The write up reveals that Amazon is not an old-fashioned Sears catalog. Nope, Amazon is a more expensive variant of eBay. I noted:

Amazon has designs to boost its ad business to new heights by selling more video commercials on Amazon properties like the video game livestreaming service Twitch and during live sporting events streamed on Prime Video; and by offering audio ads on Amazon Music. The company has also invested heavily in in-house software tools that allow brands to purchase highly targeted ads around the web.

The write up then misses what I think is the main thrust of the Bezos bulldozer. The article states:

Amazon has become a power player in yet another industry, adding advertising to a list that already includes e-commerce, logistics, entertainment, cloud computing, and voice assistants.

Sort of like other close-enough-for-horseshoes’ analysis.

The direction at Amazon is institutionalizing dark patterns. Users/customers think one thing, and the company is moving them like cattle in a Chicago stock yard to the meat packing plant.

Advertising is manipulative communication. Consider these methods at Amazon:

  • Complex pricing mechanisms within AWS
  • Lack of transparency about the data flowing into its commercial database business
  • Functionality provided to certain government agencies within the Amazon Government regions and clouds
  • Functionality within “free” music designed to create a need for a more expensive version of the service so users can create playlists.

There are other dark patterns as well. (I won’t mention the security mechanism for certain AWS cloud services which are extra cost options, not the default.)

Net net: More attention may be warranted by regulatory entities in the US and other countries. The Bezos bulldozer is reshaping landscapes, and everyone thinks that these “developments” are good for everyone. How many rabbits and squirrels are crushed by the Bezos bulldozers each day? Give up. The answer is a lot. Who wants to give up the one-click service, the subscription to common products, and the mythical one-day delivery?

Stephen E Arnold, November 11, 2022


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