Post of the Day
June 5, 1998

From our Board

Subject: Re:
Author: TMFCheeze

As usual, some good questions have been posed by puumbaa. I want to respond to one of his comments:

"I'd still like to hear why amzn will retain customer loyalty in the face of improving competition..."
I'm not sure this is very much a question of customer loyalty. I'm inclined to view it more as a matter of mindshare. I expect that as this market matures, in time we'll see 80% of the online retail book market divided up between two, perhaps three major players, much in the same way that the most of the soft drink market is divided up between Coke and Pepsi. Obviously, there will be a lot of other small fry players splitting up what's left, but the main event will be elsewhere. So the real game, in the years to come, will be Amazon versus Barnes & Noble, with Borders maybe running a distant third. I don't care how many micro-retailing mom & pop outlets are linked through, because to me they're irrelevant to the larger picture.

These expectations are based on nothing but gut, so don't ask me to cite any references. I'm just expressing my intuitive sense of how this internet thing is going to play out.

So, it's fifteen years from now. You're one of the two or three major players in the online book retail market. What are you?

"The internet is going to be bigger than television. I think that's about as obvious a trend as there is right now, given the inexorable march of technology."  

Well, you're not just an online version of a swivel rack at the supermarket checkout. You are a media outlet. You are an information resource. You are, perhaps, given the as-yet unrealized possibilities of streaming video, a pay-per-view television outlet. You are selling books, magazines, records, tapes. You are programming entertainment. You are providing vast message board forums for people to discuss music and literature. You're an online book club (move over, Oprah). You're a data bank (a kid in Des Moines is writing his term paper on Jack Kerouac... three clicks later he's accessing archived video footage of taped interviews with Beat poets). You're running live online global talk shows, moderating discussions with Nobel prize winners, world leaders, and the great masses of people on every continent. You're a nexus of information, a proprietary information resource, a universal kiosk, a world auditorium for everyone on the planet who is interested in literature. You're collecting revenue streams from retail sales, from advertisers, from media production, from membership dues, and from all the other sources my backward 20th-century brain is not yet equipped to imagine.

So get your minds out of the bricks-and-mortar box, Fools.

The internet is going to be bigger than television. I think that's about as obvious a trend as there is right now, given the inexorable march of technology. There are no guarantees that Amazon will survive the lurching social upheavals that we'll all be witness to in the decade or so ahead, but this cyberspace thing is going to be very, very big -- and for somebody it's going to be very, very profitable.


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