Amazon: retail miracle or monopoly?

I have strong opinions. I admit it unashamedly.

I’m not saying my life is massively polarised: black or white; right or wrong; good or bad. Although that is a state of mind often levelled at those diagnosed with autism. I’ll also admit to being highly principled, ready to dig my heels in about what I believe to be a moral issue.

And that brings me to Amazon. I have long felt that their attitude was inherently flawed. Articles I’ve seen over the past two days have made me more entrenched in this view.

As far as I can, I do not use their services. But as a company they are insidious. In many respects it is difficult not to deal with them because it is becoming increasingly difficult to know which pies they’ve stuck their money-grubbing fingers in.

Yesterday I learned that part of the Amazon umbrella covers ‘Netflix’. Pardon? I checked it out. Research indicated that two of the big three big internet movie providers are Netflix and Amazon Prime Movies. Similar format – but very separate companies.
So how can they be in any way linked?

  • Netflix can be accessed through an Amazon Fire TV using Alexa voice-activated commands as in Amazon Echo system
  • Amazon Web Services (AWS) provides on-demand cloud computing platforms and web services, i.e. cloud storage, and is a subsidiary company of Amazon; notable customers include NASA and Netflix (facts extracted from Wikipedia)
  • AWS promotes the fact that their service is used by Netflix; the following extract is taken from

So digging just a little deeper I found that Netflix advertises that their services can be used via a voice-activated Amazon product, and explains how to do it. Over to Amazon Web Services and they use the example of just how much Netflix is tied into them to persuade other large companies to use them. Nice.

How else can Amazon infiltrate our lives?

Yesterday, 16 December 2019, a newspaper feature said: “Earlier this year, Amazon admitted staff listen to customers conversations through Alexa, stating the recordings were used to help improve the Echo device’s understanding of human speech.” As far as I am concerned they condemn themselves with this arrogant disregard of personal privacy. Recalling that you can access Netflix via Alexa, where will this end?

Today I read of small businesses who were selling on Etsy and now finding it next to impossible to maintain a decent business due in a large part (I’m being generous here) to Amazon’s ability to offer free P&P. It is becoming more and more difficult to sell unique hand-made items at any sort of profit when you also have to cover the cost of postage. Craftspeople are being pushed under by the Amazon ‘marketplace’ and anyone who can use economies of scale to make this model work for them.

The final news items today – The Book People are going into administration, unable to compete with Amazon’s online offers. It really seemed like the end of an era.

As the world, well parts of it, rages against climate change we still hear people admitting to ‘bulk-buying’ followed by ‘bulk-returning’, massive consumerism fuelled by the easy availability of cheap products purchased by the click of a button. No wonder delivery trucks are getting bigger and their numbers growing as they race to get all this ‘stuff’ to us asap.

Will there be a time when there will be no small shops? No knowledgeable staff to speak with? No reason to leave the house to pop into town? Everything bought on-line. Everything delivered. From shoes to sweaters, holidays to hot tubs, ice cream to iced tea, tomatoes to tuna. Yep. SHIT. You won’t see it, try it, taste it. Your only advice? Online reviews – that you may not even be able to trust?

How far has Amazon spread its tentacles? Soon after I began my search I gave up – there are just too many companies to list, from Audible to Zappos.

A final thought

Apparently Jeff Bezos initially wanted to name his new company ‘cadabra’ as in ‘abracadabra’ but was told it sounded too like ‘cadaver’ over the phone. Next choice was ‘relentless’ and that still stands as a linkable website address.
Finally he settled on Amazon as ‘A’ is at the beginning of the alphabet and thought it was a fitting name because: “This is not only the largest river in the world, it’s many times larger than the next biggest river. It blows all other rivers away.” Perhaps his knowledge of geography was not a match for his business acumen. I don’t suppose he loses sleep over that. (According to Wikipedia the world’s longest rivers are the Nile in Africa 6,695 km approx., Amazon in South America 6,400 km approx., Yangtze in China 6,240 km approx.) I would also hazard to suggest that the greed that is becoming prevalent in the Amazon rainforests is a factor in destroying our planet fuelled by the consumerism driven by Amazon, the faceless oligarch. Just saying.

These are my thoughts, only my thoughts, and no other thoughts but mine. But I truly hope I’m not alone. Vapid consumerism is a scourge that inflicts and spreads from the built-in obsolescence of machines to a throw-away, one-use society.

These can be very contentious issues and it would be interesting to read your views. Please join the conversation, and thank you for reading my thoughts.

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