November 22, 2005

Slate Speculation on Creative Destruction [11:54 am]

Nothing stays the same: The Great Google Wipeout - Chronicle of a corporate death foretold

Then Amazon threw Google a curve it couldn’t hit. Google had alienated the entire book-publishing business with its universal book-scanning project, one that paid the publishers in lip service rather than cash. Amazon leveraged this alienation to convince the major New York publishers—including Murdoch’s HarperCollins, of course—to make nearly every book in print available via its “Search Inside” feature, which could already be searched in tandem with Amazon’s A9 search engine. Giving publishers a cut of the book sales and book rentals obtained through search was an essential part of the deal. The book feature of the A9 search engine made it another Club Web, almost as useful as Murdoch’s. Amazon added music lyrics, composers, titles, and artists and extended its IMDb.com database of film and TV artists and film dialogue. It became the dominant online seller of CDs, DVDs, books, and downloadable music, movies, and TV. Information didn’t want to be free, Amazon figured out. It just wanted to be sold at a variety of price points, just like feature films were—at the theater, on pay-per-view, on DVD, or free thanks to the largesse of advertisers. The only ones who mourned the passing of iTunes were the deranged iPod people.

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