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Dropping Profits Sends Amazon In Odd Directions 152

tabdelgawad writes "The Washington Post has a story detailing how Amazon has purchased the rights to turn a recently published book into a feature-length movie. The article also outlines other 'strange directions' Amazon has taken in response to declining profits and a plummeting stock price, including moving into the grocery business and producing original live webcasts and streaming shows."
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Dropping Profits Sends Amazon In Odd Directions

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  • A new chapter (Score:1, Interesting)

    by eneville ( 745111 ) on Friday July 28, 2006 @04:00PM (#15801492) Homepage
    One of the most depressing things about the IT world is the number of books one must read for a subject, consider C, it takes many books for one to become a guru, but other more 'modern' languages are simplistic, and perhaps one or two books is all it takes to grasp java/c#/python etc etc.

    Could this be the result in the change of trends?

    Has wikipedia and it's subordinates taken the place of the dead tree library?
  • by boxlight ( 928484 ) on Friday July 28, 2006 @04:04PM (#15801526)
    That's weird, my (uninformed) perception was that Amazon had solidified it's place as the king of of the hill and was doing exceedingly well.

    Funny how you don't really know who is really succeeding until you look at the bottom line.

    Is it possible that the big web 1.0 succeess like Amazon and Ebay might be toppled by some as yet unidentified jauggernaut the way Microsoft toppled WordPerfect and Lotus123 back in the day?

  • I prefer (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 28, 2006 @04:04PM (#15801527)
    At this point I frankly prefer Barnes and Noble to Amazon. B&N has finally caught up with Amazon as far as I can tell in terms of hugeness of inventory for books and DVDs, and all that stuff Amazon sells that isn't books and DVDs... well, who cares? This zshops thing is just a crappy version of eBay, and there are better places to buy used books [].

    What I've really found that's interesting lately is that if you order from from inside of a barnes and noble brick and mortar store, they waive shipping. So if I want something, I can stop at a B&N on the way home from work; and if they have the book I want I can go home with it immediately, if they don't have the book I can just ask them to order it from the website and I get it in a few days without even having to pay for shipping. It's kind of the best of both worlds.

    Plus Amazon's switched to this MSN Live Search nonsense. What purpose does serve at this point except as a repository for politically biased book reviews? As far as I'm concerned, screw 'em.
  • Inevitable (Score:5, Interesting)

    by LaNMaN2000 ( 173615 ) on Friday July 28, 2006 @04:07PM (#15801551) Homepage
    It is inevitable that Amazon would chase businesses that offer better ROCE than their core. They took on tremendous debt to build a distribution infrastructure and see single digit profit margins as a result. Meanwhile, "virtual" companies like eBay, Google, Yahoo, etc. are able to get better returns on their assets. In the past, Amazon tried to be an e-commerce platform and license their services to Toys R Us and other firms but ran into problems because they were essentially hosting sites for their direct competitors. Now, they are trying to branch into unrelated "virtual" companies like search, media, etc.
  • by Harmonious Botch ( 921977 ) on Friday July 28, 2006 @04:25PM (#15801682) Homepage Journal
    Revenue is up, traffic is up, but earnings are down. That is accountantcy jargon that translates as: "We are doing more but doing it less efficiently". And the stockholders noticed. They began selling.
    When Amazon management noticed that, they looked for some new way to use their cash and traffic to make return on their investment. Why movies? Probably because the movie business requires - among other things - up-front investments and lots of advertising. It makes sense.
  • by rmcd ( 53236 ) * on Friday July 28, 2006 @04:33PM (#15801749)
    It has seemed to me for a while that Amazon is slipping. Their web site, long a model of clarity and usability, has become confusing with the proliferation of non-Amazon sellers. For example I recently did a search for a book and the top listing in the search results was only for used copies, while if I clicked the second listing I got the usual Amazon page for the book. Since you can buy used copies from the main page for the book, I don't even understand why the separate page existed, let alone that it was the first search result.

    I have also had several bad experiences with free shipping. In one case, I ordered Christmas gifts well in advance. After a week or so, they moved the expected shipping date past Christmas due to the item supposedly being out of stock. I complained by e-mail (why were they only telling me this after the original shipping date had arrived) and they apologized and shipped it immediately. Umm, was it in stock or not? It could have been a supplier issue, but I also wondered if they were just trying to see how I would react.

    I have returned to after ignoring them for several years. Rotten-looking web site with very poor information about items. But I have found them faster and often less expensive than Amazon.

    I expect that Amazon will survive for a very long time and do lots of business, but I don't see how they're ever going to be highly profitable.
  • by robklaus ( 661537 ) on Friday July 28, 2006 @04:51PM (#15801888)
    I think they've gone terribly wrong in the level of integration they have with these 3rd party merchants.

    There is no way to limit searches for items to be stricly from Amazon. I've had mixed experiences with the 3rd party folks, and really I would prefer to buy directly from Amazon, but hunting through hundreds of search results to find what Amazon ACTUALLY sells is incredibly difficult and a major PIA. This has sent me to others for recent purchases.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 28, 2006 @05:41PM (#15802295)
    I am definitely happy with my decision to not accept a job offer with I was recently flown to Seattle to interview with for an accounts position, specifically dealing with their new toy division.

    During the interview, I stayed in the conference room where 4 Amazonians interviewed me, one after another. I was annoyed that the interviewers were asking the same questions. They pretty much were reading off a script; however, the third interviewer at least was different enough to keep away from the script and go to the whiteboard for a quick logic session.

    THE SHOCK. The offer that Amazon made me was laughable. When I was informed of the offer I asked if this was for real, and how this compared to other wages for the position. I was told that the offer that they gave me was on the high end.

    I was utterly disgusted at the offer, and couldn't understand why they even bothered to fly me up to interview. After all, for the wage they gave me, Amazon could simply have recruited from the Seattle region.

    Only after talking to those who were experienced with I realized that Amazon had horrible working conditions. Their benefits are lousy, and they pay many University level positions by wages. Yes Wages.

    In the end I quickly realized they don't conduct what we business folks regard as a "balanced score card." That is balancing the needs of ALL Stakeholders. Stakeholders obviously include employees, investors, etc... From my point of view Amazon was way too focused on employee cost cutting. From my observation, they placed very little of that into human capital, and instead hope their brand name and aging business model will carry them forward into....well I don't know what.
  • by morcego ( 260031 ) * on Friday July 28, 2006 @06:13PM (#15802526)
    Most books are good

    You obviously don't read much.
    Most books are mediocre.
  • by archen ( 447353 ) on Friday July 28, 2006 @06:33PM (#15802657)
    I used to order tons of stuff from Amazon. But over time I've noticed problems. Any electronics (yeah I used to get random electronics from Amazon) I can get cheaper and faster from newegg. And some things have a waiting time for a MONTH! What really pisses me off about Amazon is if you order 3 items, then you often end up with 3 shippers and thus 3 times the shipping cost. It's usually cheaper and faster to go to a store on the way home from work. To me amazon had everything right when they did it themselves. Then they turned into this "farm everything out" center that is just for central billing and screwed it all up.

    Ebay is still ebay, and if they screw it up, it will be for different reasons.
  • by DrEldarion ( 114072 ) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [0791uhcsm]> on Friday July 28, 2006 @11:12PM (#15803726)
    I actually have just the opposite experience. I see TONS of things on Amazon that are cheaper than anywhere else (proof [] [note, some are probably expired]) since they have low prices and a lot of exclusive promotions and rebates. I've rarely waited more than a few days for anything to be shipped, and once it had, I've gotten it quite quickly (then I got Prime, and now it's even more amazing). Incidentally, I *DO* only order things that come from Amazon themselves, so that may be where the difference lies.

    This isn't a small sample size, either. I've ordered hundreds of things from them. Only been let down a couple times, and they made it right. I know I sound like a total shill right now, but I'm really just a huge Amazon whore.

Can anyone remember when the times were not hard, and money not scarce?