This week Amazon announced Amazon Prime Music—1 million songs/tracks available for free for Amazon Prime users. The company also announced more seamless integration between listening and reading to e-books. You can be reading on one device, hop in your car and listen on your phone, picking up where you left off. Pretty nifty.
Amazon is also poised to announce new capabilities and broader reach for its e-payment system—a move we foreshadowed in October 2013 in my article: Why “Pay with Amazon” Is a Big Deal.
This is all part of the run up to the expected release of an Amazon smartphone/music device/e-reader/shopping buddy as early as next week.
The one problem with all this upbeat activity surrounding the Amazon brand is the lingering bad taste left in our mouths from the public airing of Amazon’s contractual disagreements with publisher Hachette. Because the two companies apparently couldn’t come to terms on Amazon’s profit margin or the selling prices for Hachette’s e-books, Amazon retaliated by slowing deliveries of Hachette’s (and other publishers’) hardcover books. This cost Hachette sales, angered authors, and frustrated customers who were waiting for their new best sellers. While we understand that companies often have differences over margins and rights, it was not smart of Amazon to publicly punish Hachette by slowing sales of its books. Customers found out about this bullying tactic, and began to react by pasting these “I didn’t buy this at Amazon” stickers on their books. Amazon’s customer-friendly brand has been tarnished.
When you are about to announce a blockbuster product, you really don’t want your customers and your suppliers annoyed at you. What was Jeff Bezos thinking?