The Amazon Machine

Speaking of Benedicts... here's Evans:

Amazon, then, is a machine to make a machine - it is a machine to make more Amazon. The opposite extreme might be Apple, which rather than radical decentralization looks more like an ASIC, with everything carefully structured and everyone in their box, which allows Apple to create certain kinds of new product with huge efficiency but makes it pretty hard to add new product lines indefinitely. Steve Jobs was fond of talking about saying ‘no’ to new projects - that’s not a very relevant virtue to Amazon.
For both Amazon and Apple (and indeed Google or Facebook), this means that there are certain kinds of project that they can deliver very well and very repeatably and predictably, but also, crucially, that there are certain kinds of project that they are much less well suited to deliver. Google doesn’t tend to be better at cloud platforms than Apple and worse at UIs because there are better or worse people in each team, but because each company is set up to deliver certain kinds of things, and the closer a project is to that machine’s direction the more reliable the result. If the machine is designed to do X, it will struggle at Y no matter how clever the people. A lot of the story of Amazon for the last 20 years is of how many Ys turned out to be Xs - how many categories that people thought could not be sold online and could not be sold as commodities turned out to be both.

Most companies "ship their org charts". That Amazon has seemingly figured out how to break this mold -- or at least to twist it -- is perhaps their greatest strength. And perhaps the key is there in Evans' first sentence: Amazon... is a machine to make more Amazon.

Also interesting to think back to the Fire Phone. Perhaps it failed because that was Amazon trying to do the obvious thing it seemed like they should try to do -- a type of thing that their peers often try to do, and often fail at -- what if they figure out how to break into mobile another way? A more Amazon way...


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