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Amazon Hacks For Fun and Money 249

An anonymous reader writes "There's a new BusinessWeek article looking at some of the cool hacks coming out of Amazon's open API and XML feed policy. Some nifty stuff - 27,000 developers have apparently signed up to build hacks on Amazon data. It seems '..most are only part-timers and hobbyists, but a growing number are serious programmers who seek to make a living selling products based on the data Amazon is offering on a silver platter.'"
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Amazon Hacks For Fun and Money

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @11:39PM (#6299986)
    has begun to allow others access to its private data, its most valuable asset after the collapse of the technology industry. It looks like Amazon is just the latest in this trend.

    Getting too much pr0n? []
  • The Mcdonald analogy (Score:1, Interesting)

    by superpulpsicle ( 533373 ) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @11:44PM (#6300009)
    Imagine mcdonald wanting to be a better franchise and hired annoying teenagers to cause problems in and outside the restaurant to see how they can improve.

    Give amazon some credit, cause few businesses nowadays besides financial institutions would go the distance to improve themselves.

    Now... if they can get rid of that Jeff Be...
  • Is it genius? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by spiritraveller ( 641174 ) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @11:45PM (#6300014)
    ...or were they just too stupid to do this earlier?

    Basically they are letting independent developers come up with new ways to sell their stuff, without Amazon having to pay those developers.

    Why weren't they doing this already?
  • Uses... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by idontneedanickname ( 570477 ) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @11:45PM (#6300018)
    I can think many useful things can come out of this. For exaple, a product which let you access/search the vast amounts of information they have on each of their products could be quite useful. (Although this could be constructed as a simple (well, sort of) script that retrieves certain parts of the pages Amazon has on each product.) Now, let's hope no disputes arise between Amazon and the people who want to use their information. This could range anywhere from people not giving credit to Amazon for the information, or claiming as their own, to disputes about money that's made selling products to access this information in the certain way. This could be viewed by some as selling the information. (Don't you think Amazon will want in on large amounts of money that's made from their own data?)
  • by Cirrius ( 304487 ) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @11:46PM (#6300023)
    Since it's all being created from/based on their data?

    Ahh the sound of a thousand rushing patents...
  • RIAA Radar (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Stormie ( 708 ) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @11:48PM (#6300039) Homepage

    RIAA Radar [] is a site which may be of interest to Slashdotters, which I presume is done using this Amazon API.. check if a CD was release by an RIAA member label before you buy it!

  • Re:How long until... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ( 156602 ) * on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @11:52PM (#6300051) Homepage Journal
    Why doesn't some OSS body patent Two-Click purchaces? Really, no one wants a One-Click process. They want "Buy, Confirm" process.
  • Cool hacks (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MrWa ( 144753 ) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @11:56PM (#6300067) Homepage
    Regardless of what you think about Amazon opening up its API and inventory data, this [] is a nifty product. Scan something anywhere and get the Amazon data on it. Now I comparision shop Amazon with BestBuy, Circuit City, or B&N while I am at the store. Wait?! Is this illegal under the DMCA?

    This would be great if they guy hooked it up to Froogle and made it work on a PDA - you could buy anything you saw, anywhere, for the cheapest price you could find on the web, while you were in a real store!

    (runs off to fill out a patent form...)

  • by alptraum ( 239135 ) on Thursday June 26, 2003 @12:02AM (#6300102)
    Give amazon some credit, cause few businesses nowadays besides financial institutions would go the distance to improve themselves.

    Utter BS. More so than ever companies are realizing that continuous improvement is neccesary to remain competitive. Do a google on "six sigma", an process improvement methodology which started out at Motorola after a Arizona State Univ. PhD came up with the program and has balooned in the number of companies that use the six sigma methodology. For many Deming, Juran and Taguchi, the classic gurus of quality, are praised as gods. Or check out (American Socity of Quality) Engineers are just starting to realize the power of Experimental Design (DoE) and statistics, which current computer technology now allows even those with just basic statistical backgrounds to perform advanced statistical tests and interpret the results easily. The list goes on. Improvement is the norm, not the exception in countries such as Japan, which were in a full on quality revolution in the 60's-70's with the help of Deming, leaving America aghast and having American companies beg for his help after turning him away in the 50's and 60's. Only fairly recently has America started to catch on to quality.
  • by mikeophile ( 647318 ) on Thursday June 26, 2003 @12:05AM (#6300111)
    We may modify any of the terms and conditions contained in this Agreement, at any time and in our sole discretion, by posting a change notice or a new agreement on our site. If an modification is unacceptable to you, your only recourse is to terminate this agreement. Your continued use of web services or the properties following our posting of a change notice or new agreement on our site will constitute binding acceptance of the change.

    Given Amazon's track record I suggest you developers check the license daily. []

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 26, 2003 @12:10AM (#6300132)

    This has already been done! Amazon already advertises on their Web Services page products that were designed to help their sellers for example.

    Check out Seller Engine []

    It uses the data feed from Amazon to allow Amazon sellers to create new listings and to reprice their current inventory by getting uptodate data from Amazon. You can just enter an ISBN number and you can see the sales rank of that book, the minimum price on Amazon, the availability, the list of sellers offering it, etc...

    I sell books on Amazon and have been using this for about a year now. It is a lot easier than selling on Ebay because it is much faster to put your inventory for sale, you don't have to pay to list something for sale and you can make sure your products are always competitive by using a tool like SellerEngine.

  • Query? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MadBiologist ( 657155 ) on Thursday June 26, 2003 @12:20AM (#6300174)
    I've got a ton of books, CD's and assorted merch (VHS tapes, Games, DVD's) that I'd like to catalog. These items all have barcodes, and theoretically Amazon sells a good chunck of them. Is there an app that would sync to Amazon and gather all the pesky details for these items from a simple barcode swipe? I know the there exist such a product as DVD Profiler for my DVD's... but I'd like to stop duplicate purchases if possible. If there isn't, how hard is it to program with Amazon's API? Many Thanks!
  • useful and fun stuff (Score:4, Interesting)

    by slothdog ( 3329 ) <> on Thursday June 26, 2003 @12:24AM (#6300195) Homepage
    There's a lot of cool things you can do with their API. I wrote a script to look up CD cover art [], then ran it against my webradio station's playlist, and came up with a nifty "now playing" box. Check it out.... []
  • if you are up on your amazon history, it's greatest business move was hooking up with all of the mom and pops out there in the mid-90s, and having them link back to the mothership that was the amazon bookseller

    this is that, all over again

  • by zwoelfk ( 586211 ) on Thursday June 26, 2003 @12:30AM (#6300213) Journal
    Somewhat off topic... But, imagine the fun of a job where McD's paid you to reak havoc in Burger King and Wendy's resturants :-P

    It already happens. All of the big chains (PepsiCo (i.e. TacoBell, PizzaHut, HotNNow, etc.), McDonalds, etc.) use simulations+data/video to improve their drive-through /walk-in throughput.

    Some corps decided that a pure FIFO is best on average, where McD decided to let people get out of line and wait (if the order is unusual) -- So it has been reported that some McD people (who knows? franchise owners? managers?) send people out to nieghboring places with large custom orders at rush hour that totally screw up a pure FIFO system.
  • by istartedi ( 132515 ) on Thursday June 26, 2003 @12:49AM (#6300275) Journal

    eBay Strikes Me As Very Vulnerable... to a distributed auction service run through Kazaa or something. Probably the only thing that stops someone from totally killing eBay with distributed auctions is a silly patent; but even silly patents will run out within most of our lifetimes.

    Of course, verifying who is who on a p2p network is a challenge, but picture this: The RIAA et. al. may force p2p networks to provide user identification.

    Don't see that as a crisis--see it as an opportunity. An opportunity to kill PayPal.

    Of course eBay has tremendous brand recognition, but what happens if somebody starts streaming price comparisons (from Amazon?) through a p2p? Commision-free auctions are just one click from there, if you'll pardon my pun. Then, the patent issue devolves into what it really is, which is just a brawl between corporate legal budgets. Amazon/p2p/hackers vs. eBay/Paypal sounds like a great main event after all the warmup fights we've seen.

    Of course eBay has brand recognition. So did Studebaker and DuMont.

    I'd better hurry up and patent my business method of taking online wagers based on the size of corporate legal's payroll. Oh... wait... a bunch of online brokers have prior art.

  • This strikes me as interesting. In some ways, what Amazon is doing here is basically an Open Data initiative. I am trying to draw an analogy between this kind of thing and the Open Source Software movement.

    It is useful to consider the long-term implications of this.

    Let's say that lots of people, sites, companies, etc, start using this lovely, free Amazon data. Then Amazon turns around and tells the world in 3 years that people have to start paying for the data. Kind of a suck-you-in-seeming-"open"-but-not-really kind of trick.

    Makes me think that if Debian was to make a judgement on this, the Debian Free Data Guidelines would declare this as NON-FREE (tm) as Amazon can at any point "change the license".

    Now, who knows if Amazon will ever do this. And no, I don't really read all these bad things into it. I think it is cool for them to make the data (and all) avaiable.

    It just makes me think.

    Maybe we need a GNU General Public License to cover "Open Data". Hmmnn...
  • Re:How long until... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Togra ( 147102 ) on Thursday June 26, 2003 @02:19AM (#6300511)
    The USPTO must get a huge number of patent applications, both in software and all other fields. You can't really expect them to hire experts to analyse every request for "obviousness", search for prior art, and basically judge each application.

    Even if they were to do that, do you think corporations would just go "oh, okay, you think it's not innovative, fair enough". They'd sue, claiming the analyst was biased, incompetent, or just plain wrong. I'm sure Amazon could easily find a few "experts" to claim one-click shopping was innovative and worthy of a patent.

    The current system is at least somewhat workable. Anyone can get any patent they want, then if they try and enforce it the victim has the option to dispute it and go to court, where they could bring up prior art or their own experts to point out the obviousness of the patent.
    Of course that'd be very hard for small fish to do against these big powerhouse corporations with as many patents as they have lawyers, but that's a flaw in the American legal system as a whole in its current state, not the patent system specifically.
  • by spakka ( 606417 ) on Thursday June 26, 2003 @06:00AM (#6301016)
    I'd like a button on the Mozilla toolbar to initiate a p2p search and download of an album while I'm browsing its page on amazon.

"I prefer the blunted cudgels of the followers of the Serpent God." -- Sean Doran the Younger