Sunday, January 10, 2016

Does Amazon Own Google Now?

On a laid back Sunday morning, when I'm most likely to feel the room to indulge curiousities that float by when you're buttering the toast, I was looking up how little you could get the third season of 30 Rock for on DVD at this point.

On Google, after a lead ad,

  • the first three (3) pure search returns were Amazon pages,
  • then one from Wikipedia,
  • then we get three more in succession from Amazon.
  • That's followed by one from Bestbuy,
  • one IMDB,
then an ad by Amazon and one by Target. Even better, the third result of the leadoff 3-in-a-row for Amazon is for Season 4, when my search for "30 rock season 3 dvd" pretty much couldn't be simpler or more specific. What's the logic there?  (Maybe "rationale" would be the better word.)

Overall, of nine (9) pure search results, six (6) were from Amazon.  Dear Google, how smart does that look?

Google's 2/3rds Amazon search results, Jan.'16

I realize of course that your Shopping tab will give me what I want.  But most people, and it's been this way since the earliest days of Web search (based on having worked at the original AltaVista Search in the late 90's), just go a search engine, type a one-word search and pick something from the first page. Google's default search page should be much smarter than this; and, inevitably, it makes me wonder what other subjects they're screwing up in similar ways.

On the identical search within the hour, Yahoo did much better, although with two each for Amazon and Ebay, it's still plainly skewed towards the Big Boys. That's anti-competitive, a principle that is not only common sense, but deeply entwined in the law. (Sure sounds a lot like whistling in the wind in this era, doesn't it.)

So, am I complaining about a flaw in their search algorithm ("Such mistakes have always been traced back to human error, Dave,") or Amazon's dominance?

Both.  First, we not be many, but there people like me who clearly choose not going to Amazon except in a pinch, and for all the reasons.
Like, Shop Local for everything possible, because Small Is Beautiful and human-scale, and you have a voice in it.  Unlike the alternative, where Too Big is a Failure of society, and Amazon in particular sounds pretty brutal to their workers, both white- and blue-collared?
That last part may not be such a problem in the near future, though, because here's a tip: if you're a robot, go see them about a job.
Bigger Is Better – for the Bigger.  Not necessarily for anyone any smaller.

Yahoo - pure search results, not incl. ads - one each of:
  • Amazon
  • EBay
  • Wikipedia
  • Bestbuy
  • EBay (2nd)
  • Amazon (2nd)
  • barnesandnoble
"Inside Amazon: Wrestling Big Ideas in a Bruising Workplace
- The company is conducting an experiment in how far it can push
white-collar workers to get them to achieve its ever-expanding ambitions."

New York Times, by Jodi Kantor and David Streitfeld, Aug. 15, 2015

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