Sony Marketer: “Our radical camera designed for selfies needs a name!”
Sony Engineer: “Well we called it DSC-KW1…”
Sony Marketer: “Sold!” (snatches camera and runs out of room)
captainwilfredworld asked: How did you study Anthropology and get into making apps for a living? Do you do a big part in anthropology and app making is just a side hobby?
Well, I don’t make apps for a living. Just for hobby, really.
But I do work in tech, specifically location data and analytics. Previously I worked in advertising, developing brand strategies.
Anthropology can be incredibly useful as a base knowledge if it was taught not as a trade (“Here, memorize these kinship diagrams…”) but as a method of thinking and investigating. Understanding how people interact with their culture, and how cultures bleed into one another and negotiate, allows you to think about how your efforts situate themselves and are encountered.
“ Just the book I made of all my conversations—this 400-page book, almost like a bible, that encapsulates the year—just looking at that, not even reading it, but just looking at it, and realizing that I could go to any day of the year and basically relive it through my conversations, it’s really powerful.”
Put aside the Kindle and Prime for a moment. Now name one thing Amazon has launched which is in common usage besides simple shopping.
I’d argue you can’t. Amazon comes up with problem solving tech but is absolutely terrible at packaging it.
Consider the Amazon Fire Phone. To what audience would a $200+ phone (with a two year contract) which doesn’t run a major OS appeal? It’s main features help you shop at Amazon more easily (though the image recognition services), a problem most people don’t have in the first place.
Or Amazon Wish Lists. A great product buried behind a horrible UI. Within Wish Lists are all the features of Pinterest (and were in place years before Pinterest) and no one cared beyond a select few.
Or Amazon’s Kindle hub, which has been recommending I follow Tim Ferris and his goofy highlight from a Ben Franklin biography for nearly 5 years now.
And now “Prime Pantry”, which is described as such:
Adding your first Prime Pantry item to Cart starts a Prime Pantry box. As you shop, you see that each Pantry item tells you what percentage of a Pantry box it fills based on its size and weight. Pantry boxes are large and can hold up to 45 pounds or four cubic feet of household products. As you check items off your list, we continuously track and show you how full your box is.
You can buy as much or as little as you want for a flat $5.99 delivery fee per Prime Pantry box.
Think about this from an average shopper’s point of view (and stay with me here. It gets booooring):
- An item which would normally be Prime or a Prime Add-On now goes to a sub-category within your cart.
- Click on your cart to check out and you see this sub-category marked by a infographic of a shipping-box filled up to the percent it contains. In my cart, this was 0.9% when I first noticed it. Zero point nine!
- You realize that no matter what you do, clicking “check out” will ship a large separate box with small bottle of hand soap, for an extra $5.99. You want the hand soap, so you might browse the “Prime Pantry” store for more things to stick in your box.
- The”Prime Pantry” store is pretty incomplete. I found three additional things in there that we use on a regular basis. Box filled to 10.4%.
- At this point, you aren’t going to pay $5.99 for a mostly empty box, so you look for a way to check out without your “Pantry” items. There isn’t a way. Only way is to save all “Pantry” items for later.
Voila: Amazon has convinced you to buy the hand soap at the store across the street.
At several points in the process I felt like the team from AWS was given the reigns to design this process. Measuring boxes by percentage – even without the decimal point precision – is more akin to mangling server loads than shopping for groceries.
And this is the current state of Amazon: every new product or program they launch is almost certainly going to be hidden behind a terrible experience. Their new card reader is undercutting Square on price? I’d bet money it won’t catch on because a) Amazon won’t market it to retailers and b) they’d never figure out how to use it anyway.
To make matters worse, this seems to be a cultural problem rather than just a lack of resources. Read The Everything Store and it’s hard to think of Amazon as a company which tries to create good experiences. And this blind spot could likely bring them down.