Karthik’s digital footprint

Posts Tagged ‘Amazon

Google tries to burst Amazon’s bubble

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The on-the-face-of-it reaction to the title of this post  might be to wonder whether Google made a foray into retail business or whether Google tweaked its search algorithm to reduce Amazon’s page rank. Neither. Google has done something more worrisome and troubling to what has been until now, Amazon’s highly prospective cash cow i.e., S3+EC2+SimpleDB combo of web services.

Google has just announced the release of a new product called GoogleAppEngine(GAE) that competes directly with Amazon’s S3+EC2+SimpleDB stack of web services . This kinda product from Google is definitely few years overdue, given the innovation and leadership standards Google is more often held to.

Amazon released S3 two years ago and then EC2 and Simple DB subsequently. The world was kinda surprised to see the innovation and leadership on the fronts of Cloud Storage and Cloud Computation, come from an unexpected entity, i.e., a multi-billion dollar retail giant. To draw an analogy, imagine the reaction if Walmart in the 1960s came up with a state-of-the-art aeroplane , of Jumbo Jet’s stature , even before Boeing did it. Well, it’s kind of an exaggeration. But I think I made my point.

As with any product Google releases, it’s brand name has so much value, the initial user adoption would be very high. If Google attached its brand name to a word processor that was used in the early 1990s and lionized it in a press conference , that would be good enough for a good number of users to give it a shot. So, the question is whether this sort of brand value of Google’s is good enough to cut into the head start Amazon’s S3+EC2+SimpleDB already has.

I skimmed through GAE’s features and tried to judge the prospects the product holds for website owners, developers etc. I should say I was impressed. I will go into greater detail about my findings including the technical nitty-gritty and the economics of the product in a later post , but if I have to pass my verdict on whether Google AppEngine is going to attract people away from the Amazon’s S3+EC2+SimpleDB stack, my verdict would be a ‘Maybe ‘ . I know, a ‘Maybe’, doesn’t mean much, but I am in a tough spot here.

Both the products in their current form and shape have their vulnerabilities. Amazon’s Achilles ’ heel is their still-nascent Simple DB and GAE’s vulnerability is the fact that the platform is not open – by that I mean that as a website owner one can not install any third party applications. I should also note here that Amazon has been awfully lethargic in adding new features to their SimpleDB product. Just wanted to get that on the record!!!!

On the contrary, Amazon’s strength lies in the openness of EC2 component and GAE’s significant strength is their BigTable. So, if Amazon can start working on adding new features to SimpleDB and do it fast, like really fast, I think it can hold off users from giving GAE a shot. Similarly, if Google can work on making their GAE as an open platform it could surely give Amazon a run for their money.

Whether it is Google or Amazon that ends up staying on top in this game , the consumer wins , as the respective product teams at Google and Amazon try to one-up each other . The smooth sailing for Amazon in this space has just come to an end.

Written by Karthik Reddy

April 8, 2008 at 7:42 am