The Amazon Trail

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Amazon has been slowly expanding its services over the past few months in a way that resembles one of the large portals. First, they introduced the A9 search service, which combines the search technology used on their retail sites with Google and Google AdSense ads. Then they began testing their Alexa Web Services platform with developers, giving them access to all their Alexa search and indexing data. And for their third act, Amazon is producing an original online streaming video series, sponsored by UPS, called Fishbowl. The show will be hosted by comedian Bill Maher, former host of HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher, and Comedy Central’s Politically Incorrect.

Is Amazon going the way of the Google? Probably not. Their core business is online retail, as opposed to Google, whose primary business is online advertising. Amazon undoubtedly acquired Alexa in 1999 to help people navigate its vast online retail storehouse of books, music, and movies, subsequently spinning it off into user-friendly AJAX-powered A9, and finally partnering with Google to gain a little extra revenue and promote their products. Their move to online video is purely a marketing move. And it’s not like Jeff Bezos doesn’t have money to burn.

With the upcoming introduction of their online video series, it seems that streaming video is the way to go, even if you’re not a portal. The show will promote various products for sale on Amazon by featuring artists, musicians and authors touting their work. Even if Amazon is only jumping on the streaming video bandwagon, they’re doing it in a purposeful way. Instead of generating content designed to draw viewers and enhance advertising revenue, as everyone else seems to be doing, Amazon is producing original content to draw viewers and increase sales directly.

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