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What if America’s most successful companies sometimes don’t know anything?
Recent articles about Amazon’s projects in the grocery and robotics sectors show that even the most ambitious US company can sneak around. In one, more details about the company’s supermarket chain – not Whole Foods but rather other one – that shows that Amazon still hasn’t figured out how to sell milk and chips to us yet. The company also has a team of 800 people working on what so far appears to be something like Echo speakers on wheels.
Never underestimate Amazon. But we shouldn’t assume the hugely successful tech giants have figured it all out. Sometimes, these companies may just be throwing pasta at the wall.
Facebook’s efforts to make WhatsApp the default way of interacting with customers with businesses may not be more of a grandiose design than the company’s only best option. When Amazon made a big splash a few years ago with promises to reimagine American healthcare, it probably didn’t really have a clue. When Google, Facebook and SpaceX say they will bring internet access to more people using balloons, drones or satellites, they don’t necessarily have to pass a complex challenge.
Many of these are worthwhile endeavors. We should all believe in the power of innovation to solve problems. But neither the public nor policymakers should put too much faith in the actual, expensive market research of giant companies.
Let me go back to one of Amazon’s famous projects in the grocery space. The company’s last 15 years: Amazon has been running a grocery delivery service for a decade without much success. Then, nearly four years ago, the company bought a chain of 500 Whole Foods groceries for more than $ 13 billion. It was not a kick. Now Amazon is building one different chain from scratch with stores that Bloomberg News describes as somewhere between Trader Joe’s and larger supermarkets.
Amazon’s upbeat view of the grocery chain is just the first step in the company’s overall plan. Maybe!
It has been reported that Amazon has dreams of many automation stores and plans to eliminate cash registers in many places. Maybe Amazon wants to use its grocery stores as a preparation hub for fresh fish deliveries and dish soap.
I can’t wait to see the big ideas from Amazon. But for 15 years there has been no evidence of Amazon’s great theory of the grocery store or its ability to turn imagination into reality. Meanwhile, some companies in China cleverly combine in-store shopping with delivery. UK’s Ocado and the Kurly Market in South Korea are tackling inefficiencies in getting groceries to people’s doors. The best grocery store ideas don’t come from Amazon.
This is where I add that maybe I’ll look like an idiot writing this. Grocery stores, home robots, pharmaceuticals and health insurance are all areas that deserve innovation. It’s helpful to see Amazon’s efforts as experiments – sometimes worse – than complete creative masterpieces.
For the most part, I worry that we’ll put too much faith in what might be low-stakes issues for the tech giants but tough problems with the rest of the pack. we. It wouldn’t help if some policymakers were halting transit projects to see if unmanned cars could be the answer to the transportation nightmare. (They will not.)
I write a lot about how powerful tech companies are and what harm they can do. But believing that the superpowers have figured it out can also be harmful.
Facebook’s feud with Australia ends with a whimper
You know what’s not great? Australians are caught between business talks between Rupert Murdoch and Mark Zuckerberg.
Do you remember a month ago – I know, these days feel like time doesn’t matter – when Facebook blocked all news from the app in Australia? This came after a new law in the country required Google and Facebook to pay news organizations for links to their articles.
The law can be misinterpreted or it can be intelligent. I do not know. Sure, Google and Facebook don’t like it – but they’ve taken contradictory approaches, at least at first.
Google has opted to grind its teeth and sign contracts to pay for a number of news organizations, including News Corp owned by Murdoch. Facebook’s response was to riot, criticize the law and prevent people and news organizations from sharing or viewing news links on its apps in Australia. (Facebook has since temporarily removed this news.)
Then, on Monday, Facebook did pretty much what Google did a month ago: It signed a document payment agreement from Murdoch’s company. Could this war for the public good really be just a brawl among billionaires?
I don’t want to let the conclusion pretty meh obscure the important fundamental issues. Google and Facebook account for a significant portion of the advertising sold around the world. That makes the life of news organizations and other companies that support themselves in advertising.
Lots of people and government officials are trying to figure out what, if any, should do about it. US lawmakers are arguing over a bill that would give smaller news organizations the power to bargain collectively to cut deals with Facebook and Google – no different from what happened in Australia. (It’s no different from a proposal I wrote in 2009.)
Whether these are the wise moves or whether news organizations deserve special help or not is a worthy debate. Unfortunately, in Australia, important questions are mixed with rich companies arguing about power and money.
Before we go …
A confidential labor arrangement, again, involves: After a controversial attempt to unify Amazon’s warehouse workers east of central Virginia, the company made a 22-point promise it would not retaliate against future union supporters. My colleague David Streitfeld recounted that the previous confidentiality agreement with federal regulators and how it relates to the company’s current labor unrest.
Hack all your text messages for $ 16: A Vice News reporter found many rental hackers who could reroute all of his text messages and use access to hack into his online accounts. . It’s a terrifying story that shows irresponsibility in the sprawl mess of our text messaging system.
Streaming has helped change the sound of music: For the Times Opinion section, Nate Sloan and Charlie Harding explain how the pop music structure of the verse and chorus began to change because of many factors, including the desire to create songs that appeal to people on Spotify. or TikTok.
Actress and actress Tiffany Haddish is known to have won a Grammy while filming a children’s TV show. See as she and the kids were completely excited by this news.
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