The single chart which explains Amazon's dominance

Can it be stopped?

Tech journalist Benedict Evans has uploaded the slides from a talk he gave at BEA, the American publishing industry's key conference. It's a state-of-the-nation of the mobile industry, and is a pretty perfect snapshot of quite how much more important smartphones and tablets are than common-or-garden PCs.

But my favourite slide from it is this one:

Image by Benedict Evans

It underscores what I've been saying about the company for some time: Amazon, even while being one of the largest retailers in the world, is still acting like a Silicon Valley start-up, trading profits for growth on an astronomical scale.

This has all sorts of implications: it means that it's hard to work out exactly what level of tax the company "should" be paying, especially when the only figures available for any individual country refer to revenue rather than profit; it means that it's basically impossible to compete against them on their terms, which is almost certainly what did for HMV; and it means that the company is now competing with its own suppliers, becoming a publisher in an attempt to drive prices ever lower.

But there's another side to this: it means that the company is engaged in a decades-long plan to take every penny of profit made by basically any retailer in the world, and return it to the customer. That's hard to argue as a bad thing, especially when you consider that the vast majority of the price pressure is hitting companies like HMV and Waterstones – juggernauts who, in their own heydays, were hardly the most sympathetic of companies.

The unspoken assumption underlying it all, though, is that Amazon has an end-game in mind. At some point, is it going to decide the time has come to make a profit? Or is it just going to grow and grow until it is the sole seller of every product in the world? Neither of those outcomes would be great. But judging by the trend, we'll find out which it is sooner rather than later.

Alex Hern is a technology reporter for the Guardian. He was formerly staff writer at the New Statesman. You should follow Alex on Twitter.

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Quiz: Can you identify fake news?

The furore around "fake" news shows no sign of abating. Can you spot what's real and what's not?

Hillary Clinton has spoken out today to warn about the fake news epidemic sweeping the world. Clinton went as far as to say that "lives are at risk" from fake news, the day after Pope Francis compared reading fake news to eating poop. (Side note: with real news like that, who needs the fake stuff?)

The sweeping distrust in fake news has caused some confusion, however, as many are unsure about how to actually tell the reals and the fakes apart. Short from seeing whether the logo will scratch off and asking the man from the market where he got it from, how can you really identify fake news? Take our test to see whether you have all the answers.

 

 

In all seriousness, many claim that identifying fake news is a simple matter of checking the source and disbelieving anything "too good to be true". Unfortunately, however, fake news outlets post real stories too, and real news outlets often slip up and publish the fakes. Use fact-checking websites like Snopes to really get to the bottom of a story, and always do a quick Google before you share anything. 

Amelia Tait is a technology and digital culture writer at the New Statesman.