Amazon and Google Misstep: Will It Cost Them?
July 9, 2015
July 9, 2015
Few companies have become as indispensable to my life as Amazon and Google. For someone who finds the act of shopping laborious, Amazon Prime is a godsend. No longer do I have to trudge out to a mall to aimlessly sift through merchandise only to settle on a purchase to justify the trip. In fact, I got all of my Christmas shopping done from my living room in a half hour. Even more vital to modern life is Google, whose impact can be summarized by the fact that people say “Google” instead of “look it up.”
Amazon and Google are among the top tier of companies that are constantly working to make modern life more efficient. In their list of the most innovative companies, Bloomberg Businessweek ranked the companies 11th and 2nd, respectively. There is no denying the overwhelming utility of Amazon and Google, but appearances of both in recent news should serve as a reminder that these businesses are not infallible.
Google’s image recognition software is a pretty cool concept – identify the contents of a photo without inputting a description. As one would expect, there have been minor issues; for instance, a dumbbell requires an arm for accurate recognition. But another error, the misidentification of two black people as gorillas, was hardly excusable. Though no malice was involved, and Google was quick and contrite in its response to the crisis, it was not a situation the company was pleased to be in when rolling out a new feature.
Just this week, Amazon was informed a trademark lawsuit against it would continue after the company tried to have the case dismissed. The lawsuit was brought by a watchmaker whose products are not sold on Amazon, yet when the company is searched on the site, products sold by its competitor appear. The company alleges that, by not specifying that its products aren’t available, Amazon is encouraging customers to buy another brand or that they are confusing consumers in a gesture of bad faith. Certainly, this could be a case where Amazon is looking to help its customers by offering alternatives to products they do not carry, but devil’s advocate might say they’re focused on not losing the sale to another site.
I don’t imagine either Google or Amazon will suffer any substantial damage to either their reputations or revenues due to these missteps. Despite the bad news, my opinion of these companies remains as I described in the first sentence – they are indispensable. But will all Amazon and Google users feel the same way?