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31 October 2014

Dear Jeff Bezos...



Dear Jeff Bezos,

Your latest financial earnings report really got me thinking. Why do people buy from Amazon today? Two reasons spring to mind:

1. Because Amazon is convenient (customers know they will find everything they need, at a good price that they don’t have to spend hours comparing).

2. Because Amazon is reliable (fast delivery and easy returns process).

In short, Amazon is easy and you know you won’t be disappointed. It does exactly what it says on the tin.

Differentiation is great, but it’s only necessary in a few relevant aspects. Being the first to do ‘XYZ’ may be cool, but online shopping has grown up and today people don’t buy from you because it’s cool - they buy from you because it’s easy and they won’t be disappointed.

As for the Fire Phone – it is difficult to be the coolest phone on the market today. Even 3D did not suffice. So why not use your innovation power to make it the most convenient phone? This would go in line with the aforementioned Amazon characteristics.

Don’t you think you could differentiate the Fire Phone by making it the most convenient to interact with the real world? I have several suggestions, but let’s start with the camera.

First things first, you already do this right; a dedicated physical button and one click for the camera is great. There’s no need to unlock via the display first, as you need to do with Apple. Now you should build on this and make things easier for the user, by delivering the best experience after taking a picture, such as:

  • Sharing the picture via Facebook, Twitter or WhatsApp – how can this be optimised? How about combining it with your Firefly recognition? If someone posts a picture of a landmark building that is recognised by Firefly, why not pre-offer a caption such as: “Standing in front of La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, Spain” or “Built by genius architect Antonio Gaudi in 1882”.
  • Allow users to sort or categorise their pictures really easily, which currently nobody else does. For example, allow pictures to feature in more than one category eg. “My daughter” AND “Holiday Spain 2014”. So, categorisation is technically rather like tagging but it’s still a challenge to make this easy to use.
  • Make it super easy to show pictures on tablets and TVs. Possibly easiest with your own FireTV? You could also optimise interaction with general smartTV/WiFi-interfaces?
  • Can you enable the use of your FireFly technology on exisiting pictures, when they are displayed? Imagine mum asking “Oh, what is this building?” (or perhaps “I love that lady’s shoes – where can I buy them?” ;-)

While I am truly a great fan of you and the company you have built, my point is that I feel you are trying to differentiate in too many fields. Differentiation should be done only in relevant fields, and it works best if customers can build one big picture out of it.

While you may not have addressed the latest earnings miss in your statement about the results, you did, however, highlight how it is “a good time to be an Amazon customer” and that I don’t deny. With further customer services advances like the Mayday button on the Kindle Fire and Sunday delivery for Amazon packages, these are differentiators that set Amazon apart when it comes to reliability and convenience. We can’t all be the coolest kid on the block, but we can take what differentiates ourselves and build on that. You have always put the customer first; if you continue to do so, I believe Amazon will thrive on. 


Carsten Kraus
Founder and CEO


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