Amazon Not Satisfied With Just Taking on Publishing – Now Planning Blogs, Too
The Daily reported today that Amazon is looking into launching several blogs this year.
Their sources have told them that Amazon plans to launch a gadget review blog, media blog, and a photo app blog. The review blog was likened to Engadget or Gizmodo, and it would link back to products sold on Amazon. the media blog would cover "film, comics, TV and other geek-related activities" while the photo app blog would cover photo apps.
While this story may sound outlandish, one of the sources also told The Daily about Amazon’s lockers before it launched. There’s a good chance this rumor is as accurate.
I don’t think the blogosphere needs to worry; there’s no sign that Amazon is doing more than just dabbling in blogs.
Update: Baldur points out in the comments that Amazon owns dpreview.com, which he describes as a leading photography blog. I didn’t know that.
Amazon already has a number of blogs, besides Daily Kindle Post, which is used for official announcements and Kindle promo stuff. There’s a book blog (Omnivoracious), car blog (Car Lust), film blog (Armchair Commentary), foodie blog (Al Dente), music blog (ChordStrike), and a general gadget blog called End User.
But they’re not really all that active, not when you compare them to any blog that’s being run as a business (instead of supporting a business). Amazon’s current blogs are closer to being corporate blogs (used to keep your name out there) rather than pro blog (run like it’s a business). If Amazon really wants to build a blog-based business they will have to stop dabbling, hire staff, and get a few big names to run it.
And they could do just that; it’s what they did once they got serious about getting into publishing, after all.
But they’re also going to have to develop a new business model.
While some blogs do well on advertising, others have taken the less obvious approach: they throw a conference once or twice a year. If done right they can be very profitable, I’m told. But what kind of conference could Amazon do? I only know the one niche, but I could see myself going to an event where Amazon’s vendors are showing off their wares. That could be fun, depending on the items on display.
Of course, Amazon could probably at least break even by pitching things they sell, which would explain the gadget review blog. If the gadgetry is cool enough then most people won’t mind and some will buy.
But as I think about it, I’m not so sure how seriously we should take this rumor. I have the feeling that Amazon will run the new blogs much like they do the current ones. I don’t think they’re really planning to launch a serious competitor to Engadget, Gizmodo, or SlashGear. It doesn’t fit their current style and it would represent a major change to their business model.
I’m thinking that Amazon’s new blogs are going to be about as noteworthy as their current ones. But if they hire a well known blogger away from one of the major blogs, I’ll change my tune.
Baldur Bjarnason May 10, 2012 um 11:27 pm
Amazon owns dpreview.com, a serious camera review blog. Indeed, it’s *the* leading camera review blog, the ars technica of photography. And it sounds like these rumoured blogs could fit in that mould.
Nate Hoffelder May 11, 2012 um 12:02 am
Yes, but that’s one they bought, not built. Dpreview.com is like a lot of Amazon’s subs; no one is quite sure why it was purchased and Amazon never does anything with it (visibly).
Baldur Bjarnason May 11, 2012 um 1:16 am
I disagree. Somewhat. From what I’ve heard, dpreview sells an absolute ton of cameras, both through the reviews and through the camera database. All of those sales are funnelled to Amazon.
That qualifies as doing something with it, very visibly, because it’s doing exactly what Amazon does: sell stuff.
If you look at the jobs dpreview has advertised over the years since its acquisition, the redesigns, and the development of community and review features, it’s clear that Amazon has been putting money into the property.
IMO, it’s a exemplary model for how a well run review site can be a valuable asset to an ecommerce company.
But, as you point out, they had to buy it because it’s also hard to replicate. After following the site for several years (since way before Amazon acquired it) you get a sense that it’s run with a very consistent eye for quality and detail and a demonstrated talent for community management. I don’t think there is a site in the tech industry that comes even close to delivering at the same level (even The Verge is fluffy and gossipy compared to dpreview) so I have no idea where Amazon would find the talent to build and run a gadget site that would complement Amazon as well as dpreview does.
Also, cameras can be measured much more objectively, both in terms of imaging quality and ergonomics, than most consumer tech. One of the keys to making a site like this work for an ecommerce company would be a reputation for impartiality, which is next to impossible in the gadget reviewing sector.
In the end, I agree with you. 🙂 I don’t think Amazon is about to start a serious tech blogging entry, mainly because none of the pre-existing models for how tech blogs are run would complement their business and building a new model for a tech blog from scratch would take talent and insight the industry just doesn’t have.
(That was a bit of a long and roundabout comment. Sheesh. :-D)
Nate Hoffelder May 11, 2012 um 1:38 am
"From what I’ve heard, dpreview sells an absolute ton of cameras, both through the reviews and through the camera database. All of those sales are funnelled to Amazon."
That would have happened anyway. Amazon makes it really easy to be an affiliate.
Peter May 11, 2012 um 4:49 am
But dpreview itself might not be otherwise profitable.
If they were sending Amazon a lot of business, but were in danger of going belly up, it might have make sense for Amazon to step in and bail them out by acquiring them.
Doesn’t make sense for a homespun blog, though.
Nate Hoffelder May 11, 2012 um 5:35 pm
If they were sending Amazon a lot of traffic then they were likely earning a lot from affiliate fees. It would be more than you realize; $100k a month wouldn’t be out of the question, given the amount of traffic they have.
Baldur Bjarnason May 12, 2012 um 2:53 pm
Before Amazon acquired them, they were referring a lot of their sales to local competitors. (I’ve been following that site for years, remember?) Amazon often didn’t even appear in the affiliate/referral box widget thingie they used to have back in the pre-Amazon days.
I’m pretty sure that was the case because I remember having to search for the reviewed camera model on Amazon to see if their prices were the same as those that actually did appear in dpreview’s affiliate widget.
fjtorres May 11, 2012 um 3:56 am
Hmm, tying blog to conferences/vendor expos might be a business indeed.
Most of the pure techie expos have been fading away and losing big name exhibitors, mostly because they’re too pricey. Since one of Amazon’s tools is making things cheaper…
Odds are there’s an angle we’re missing; Amazon doesn’t just think out of the box–they torch it…
Peter May 11, 2012 um 5:14 am
"Odds are there’s an angle we’re missing;Amazon doesn’t just think out of the box–they torch it…"
Bloggers receive review units pre-shipment.
The faster Amazon can get an innovative product, the faster they can copy it.
fjtorres May 11, 2012 um 3:01 pm
There you go.
Because B&N and Kobo will eagerly send pre-release hardware to a competitor’s blog. 🙂
That is definitely out of the box thinking.
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