Tag Archive for amazon

Amazon Homepage Redesign

It seems after a bit of testing back in September 2011, Amazon has finally started to roll out it’s refreshed interface started with Amazon Associates. You can see this new design if you are logged into your associates account but if you open a new chrome Incognito window you see the same old version.

I do really like the new look as it’s a welcome refresh and certainly seems to be designed to be used on touch screen devices and has been the first major change in a long term so should be welcomed by most of their users.

Amazon hints at keyword traffic

Black Friday DealsThe crew over at Domain Name Wire have picked up on an interesting registration by Amazon of several Christmas and Black Friday related generic exact match domains. These .com domains enable Amazon to benefit globally but a number of the terms are very American retail specific such as “black friday” and “holiday toy list”.  The purchase of the domains signals that Amazon is trying to increase the number of direct visitors that they are attracting and trying to cut the reliance on Google to deliver these visitors.  The strategy can be very effective but also can start an arms race with competitors to register every variation of domain that Amazon has failed to register first, and also search engines may adjust their algorithm further to reduce the benefit of exact match domains.

What are their exact match domain keywords?

  • black friday deals clothing
  • black friday deals movies
  • black friday deals tools
  • black friday deals watches
  • amazon holiday toy list
  • gift ideas books
  • gift ideas cameras
  • gift ideas games
  • gift ideas kitchen
  • gift ideas movies
  • gift ideas music
  • gift ideas toys
  • holiday toy list electronics
  • holiday toy list games
  • holiday toy list movies
  • holiday toy list music
  • holiday toy list sports
  • holiday toy list toys
  • holiday toy list videos

What is the value of this typed-in traffic?

If amazon wanted to buy this traffic via Google AdWords it would be costing them around $0.56-0.80 per click so it’s going to be a lot cheaper to try and capture visitors via type-in traffic.  When a visitor types the keyphrase directly into the web browser’s address bar, Google will often see it as direct navigation and send the visitor directly to your website.  This is a very effective way for Amazon to capture traffic for a number of these long tail terms but benefits them as it also skips the entire process of them seeing Google results and possibly clicking on your competitors links.

What is the traffic trends around the “Gift Ideas” terms?

It’s perfect timing as the biggest area of traffic that spikes in the 2nd week of November each year according to Google Insights for search.  The related search terms around “Gift Ideas” also show that this area is larger than just the holiday season with search variations of gift ideas including: birthday, christmas, wedding, anniversary, diwali, baptism.  This might also hint that some of the low hanging fruit for SEO or PPC might be focusing around the same terms as the new Amazon domains, that may now deliver them several thousand extra visitors every month.

What is the traffic trends around the “Black Friday” terms?

The generic term of “black friday” outperforms “gift ideas” by around 30 to 1 according to Google Insights for Search.  The purchase of the domains also support Amazon’s new Black Friday Deals website which is counting down to the start of the Christmas shopping season and one of the busiest shopping day for US retailers.  Being how Cyber Monday is the online version of of Black Friday it’s interesting to see that Amazon is focusing on the offline retail channels.

What is the traffic trends around the “Holiday Toy List” terms?

The potential traffic that these terms will drive is much lower that “gift ideas” and “black friday” but it’s likely that many of these terms are keywords used during the research phrase before a decision is made what toy they should buy.  If Amazon has multiple touch points and manages to get an item added to their wish list or shopping basket the chance they will purchase from Amazon greatly increases.  Even if the visitor doesn’t purchase this year, Amazon is also able to tag the visitor with a cookie to better understand consumer behaviour in time for 2012 Christmas shopping season.  You will also notice that Amazon is not focused on “toys” or “lists” but the singular version of the keyword.  They are focused on the plural version of the actual item as they understand the shoppers mentality and also want shoppers who are going to purchase more than one item.

What is the Top Toys for 2011?
While we are talking holiday toys, the Guardian has already outlined what presents parents must ensure they purchase for their kids, based on the Toy Retailers Association “Dream Toys” list.

So if Amazon is on the money already, so have you started planning your Christmas campaigns yet?

Free cloud based backup options

Recently a client advised me they had spent $3,000 to try to recover data they lost and I’ve seen many status updates from friends and family on Facebook saying they have lost data. Most of this can be avoided by using one of the many online backup solutions and most of them offer a free personal account with options to upgrade to add storage space or features.

I thought that I would highlight some of the many providers that offer from 1 gig to 50 gig of free online backup that you can start using today and reduce the impact of losing everything.

Concerns about Cloud reliability?

All the chaos that surrounded the recent Amazon EC2 issues caused a lot of start-ups to re-evaluate their cloud solutions but most of it is overblown.  The reason is that the cloud based data centres where your data is stored features more security, redundancies, trained staff and technology than your company or office could ever possibly match.  Simply just as you focus on running your business they focus on ensuring the utmost reliability and superior performance possible for all their customers.

Close proximity negates external backup

While it’s a great policy to back up documents, photos and videos to an external hard-drive unless the process is automatic we all get lazy and end up losing data when things go wrong. The other issue is that many people leave the external hard-drive connected to their computer so a lightning strike, break-in or fire will still result in loose of data.

If you are using a cloud based solution you can be assured that your data is located far enough away from your office to escape any local hardware faults, natural disasters or nearby terrorism attack that may happen at some point in the future.

Dual solutions offering both hardware and software

One of the interesting movements forward is the dual product from Hitachi offering customers a free allocation of cloud backup on their new range of premium Touro hard-drives.  This is a smart move as it provides a dual benefit as it increases the attractiveness of their larger premium HD products for business but also slows the potential growth of competitors hosted only products.  Going forward solutions offered by Hitachi make commercial sense and add piece of mind to those buying their products but also provides a new possible revenue stream as customers want to upgrade to move than the included 3 gigs.

Many providers such as Norton Anti-virus have long offered online backup servers but it’s not been such a perfect fit as the recent Hitachi offering.

Cloud solutions can be shared

Another big benefit of using cloud based solutions is that data archived can be made available to anyone that has your security login details or virtual security certificate. This allows for franchise operations or multiple locations to centralise data backup solutions but can also allow easy sharing of backed up data between different locations or staff.  You accounts department can update end of year financial documents ready for the auditors or those staff working on the road don’t have to stress as much if their laptop is lost or stolen.

Offsite Security Issues

The other issue is the external data can be a potential security breach as often the backup will be unencrypted and relies of staff keeping the external drive safe and not leaving it in the car sitting in the hot sun, in the back of a taxi, on public transport or in a bar after a big Friday night out in town. Most cloud based solutions offer products to larger corporates and government departments so offer military grade encryption as standard but at a basic offer far beyond what most hackers are able to crack.

Hardware failures happen

Last month I was lucky as when my old Toshiba laptop blew up, I didn’t lose any data and was able to copy the data from the old hard-drive to my new laptop.  I was also able to reduce my worries because I had been using Mozy for the previous 3 months so would have only lost a few items. The incident with Amazon EC2 issues showed that you benefit from having local access to data should the cloud experience access issues.

Some backup platforms like Mozy offer due benefits as they allow you to back up to USB so you have you data secure in 3 different solutions should one of them fail.

Device Support?

Most of the platforms support any platform through their web-based applications but they mostly also offer a great desktop app but many offer multiple mobile device support.

What can you do now?

The best solution is to bite the bullet and actually do something, starting with trialling at least one of the many providers that offer free data listed below.  If you want more data or more features at a later stage consider those that offer flexible upgrades to paid/premium solutions.

Leading cloud based solutions offering free data storage?

  • 2 gig free with application available for Windows & iPhone devices. Learn more about Cloud based backup solutions like Mozy.
  • 50 gig free with basic features available for personal use only. Learn more about ADrive here
  • 25 gig free with SkyDrive which includes 5 gig free storage space included with Windows Live Mesh. It’s also can be automatically synced with WindowsPhone devices. Learn more about Windows Sky Drive
  • 5 gig free with application available for iOS, Android, Blackberry, Windows mobile, Symbian with sync to multiple devices.Learn more about Sugar Sync
  • 5 gig free with application available for mobile access. Learn more about Box.net here
  • 3 gig free with application also available for Windows, Mac, Linux, iPhone, Mobile. Learn more about MemoPal here
  • 3 gig free with any new Touro Hitachi hard drive. Learn more about Hitachi Touro here
  • Asus’s 2 gig free with application also available for Windows, Android and iOS. Learn more about Asus here
  • 2 gig free also available for Windows, Mac and Linux. Learn more about Spider Oak
  • 2 gig free with application for Ubuntu and Windows. Learn more about Ubuntu here
  • 2 gig free with unlimited folders and upto 2 computers. Learn more about Snycplicity here
  • 2 gig free with application available for Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android and Palm Pre. Learn more about ZumoDrive here
  • 2 gig free with application available for Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android and Blackberry. Learn more about DropBox here
  • 1 gig free with OS integration.  Learn more about Wuala here
The only platform that I’ve use consistently is Mozy but I have played around with Microsoft’s platform with some success when it was first launched but haven’t made much use of it since then.  The downside was the speed of the Live Mesh application was weighed down by Silverlight, the upside is the massive amount of data that is provided free for anyone with a Live account.

Amazon.com working issues?

A quick check of Amazon Web Services service health dashboard show that currently all services are operating normally, but checking Amazon.com from this service shows that is appears to be down currently.  The strange point is that i’ve tested both Amazon.com and www.Amazon.com and had no issues from here so it is likely a geographic as Amazon.co.uk appears to be down, as does the Italian Amazon and the German Amazon.

It’s not clear if it is related to Wikileaks but apparently the DDoS attacks have been called off by Anonymous so it might be something else causing the issue and it seems centered on USA/EU traffic.

Update: It was confirmed by Amazon in a statement to Reuters that it was a hardware failure in their European data that caused the outage and not related to Wikileaks.

Database.com now hosting

Following on from all the hype in Australia last week with the Microsoft’s Cloud Power Forums it’s interesting to see how many big companies are moving in more aggressively to offer cloud based solutions.  Not wanting to be left out of the game it seems that SalesForce.com is in the process of launching its own solution but in a left field move it’s focused purely on the database market not the general market.  In a very interesting move to shake up the larger database players like Oracle it’s actually free to get started on Database.com with up to 100,000 records performing no more than 50,000 transactions per month with no more than 3 users.

It seems that SalesForce.com is following Oracles lead in aggressively buying up suitable platforms they can merge into their own Cloud based future with April’s purchase of Jigsaw database for $152 million that gave them a community of 1.2 million members and was followed up with December’s purchase of Heroku for $212 million giving SalesForce.com around 107,577 apps running on Ruby on Rails.  These types of smart cloud technology purchases increase the future possible platforms that maybe offered on Database.com and also give it volume and access to corporate clients like BestBuy who use Heroku.

Microsoft Cloud

Microsoft’s platform Windows Azure also offers a similar platform service SQL Azure but it’s focus is being a cloud based operating system that offers the full suite of development, service hosting under a service management environment via it’s on-demand and scalable datacenters.  Windows Azure is a different platform completely as it offers storage, virtual networks, CDN, application fabrics while it’s SQL Azure offers database, data sync which is closer but not identical to the Database.com solution.  You can usually get a free trial of the Azure platform but it’s not as attractive as Database.com’s offering but is hard to compare as the platforms are like chalk and cheese.

Amazon Cloud

Much of the Amazon cloud platform is built around Amazon Web Services which have continue to expand their product suite to match Microsoft Azure and stay ahead of the competitors with one of the largest range of cloud based services.  Amazon Web Services offer: computational, content delivery network, database, eCommerce, messaging, networking, storage and payments/billing. In what was a very well-timed announcement from the 1st of November, any new Amazon Web Services customer will be able to run a free Amazon EC2 Micro Instance for a year for free which also advises that it’s competing product Amazon SimpleDB is free indefinitely. While comparing the SimpleDB to Database.com is much easier the interesting point is that Database.com doesn’t charge for data transfer which might make the Database.com product much cheaper for companies based outside the US/EU in the APAC region.

Google App Engine

Run your web apps on Google's infrastructureGoogle has led the market in offering a majority of its applications hosted and powered from the cloud and they trying to capture more of that profitable enterprise market with its Google App Engine for Business offering.  The product falls flat compared to other solutions with only a 99.9% SLA you can expect around 8 hours 45 minutes downtime to your application every year which is far too high for a cloud hosted platform and twice what Amazon Web Services commits to. There is very little detailed around the Google App Engine pricing except that each application costs $8 per user per month and there is a maximum of $1000/month.  It seems that they are still working on their hosted SQL database product that will more closely compete with Database.com but that might be sometime in 2011 before it’s available for your applications but that would be closer to what Database.com is offering.

What about SEO?

SalesForce.com was actually fairly lucky when they made the decision to use the generic domain Database.com as they are already ranking #8 in Google.com search results for “Database” which means that any advertising or word of mouth campaigns will be more likely to succeed if people can find the Database.com easily.  You can see that Oracle has put a fair bit of focus into database traffic capturing both #2 & #6 but they could potentially do much better and will likely increase their strategies if Database.com continues to climb up the search results.  They are doing quite well for a site that hasn’t been live that long and in such a high volume search term, but they need to continue their success but should focus around terms that include database to get the most impact.

Database search results

What about Social Media?

Their Database.com twitter profile is a bit weak, being how it’s linked from Database.com but doesn’t feature any updates, no avatar and not following anyone… yet it has attracted so far 180 followers and is growing around 6 on average per day since it was launched on the 15th November. It would have made sense to be a bit more proactive in social media and being a week since the official launch there still appears to be no-one at home which might have cost them the early lead all that PR that the Wall Street Journal and ReadWriteCloud generated last week.

databasedotcom twitter statistics

The new Database.com platform seems a great fit with Force.com and SalesForce.com but it still seems that they need a few more pieces before they are able to start to challenge Oracle, Microsoft or Amazon in the Cloud hosting environment but you can expect a busy 2011 for all those who are helping business move their applications into the cloud. It still seems more of a move to counter Oracle than a well executed strategy at this point but keep an eye on this space….

Facebook’s first data centre

Facebook has rolled out its first data center today, showing its commitment to investing in new infrastructure to support its rapid growth with a $180-215 million dollar building project.

The problem with hosting within the San Francisco Bay Area is the extremely high cost of commercial land with around $80-150 per square foot and low availability of land, even around Palo Alto there is scarcity of land and zoning issues.   Facebook has followed the model of sharing, leasing and now owning their own data centers.  They can also avoid the bigger issue of earthquakes as their office’s close location to the San Andreas fault line as shown in the right-side image.

The entity which controlled the purchase & planning to keep Facebook private was Vitesse LLC.  The company Vitesse maybe related to their possible network supplier or maybe just a football association.

What is interesting is that the remote locations that was chosen Prineville, Oregon which is a long way from its San Francisco offices but from a data protection and security perspective it makes sense. The Prineville location was selected because of the lower power prices, enterprise zoning and size of the land.  The other benefit is that because of the dry climate Facebook is able to use evaporative cooling systems to further reduce power consumption.

Google operates a large data center in The Dalles, Oregon just near the Columbia River which powers a large hydroelectic dam. Amazon runs its datacenter operations out of Boardman, Ohio.

The move into rural america is a massive support for regional locations, and it is likely other companies will follow Facebook’s lead in selecting Prineville, Oregon for their data center locations. The central data location will also likely reduce the costs associated with running multiple locations and having to deal with Facebook user data de-duplication as previously it has had 4 data centers in San Francisco, Santa Clara, New York & London, UK.

Crook County had a 17.4% unemployment rate as of November 2009 so the construction should assist the local community.  The hiring of the 35 employees located on site will begin in September 2010, and hiring should be complete by December 2013.  Facebook has applied for a 10-year waiver of all income and excise taxes under the Oregon Investment Advantage program.

The city of Prineville will recieve a franchise fee from Pacific Power for any power the datacenter uses. The company will pay an annual $110,000 community fee and $27,000 in porperty tax. The actual site only has plans for 35 staff initially but this maybe expanded as there is plans for 49 parking spaces. The construction process has already begun and heavy machinery can be seen on site drilling holes as part of the preparation for the building.

To put the new Facebook data center’s location into perspective we have included a map
3,965 Km west from Harvard University, Cambridge, MA
901km north from Facebook Offices, Palo Alto, CA
506km south from Microsoft, Seattle, WA
The facebook datacenter is to be located at the newly built 735 S.W. Vitesse Avenue. The 124 acres block of land the data center sits on was purchased for $3.2 million earlier last year. It is located just west of the town center, just east the local airfield which should make it possible to fly engineers and staff into the area quickly if required. The approximate location is just slightly north of the red marker on the map below.
The 10,892 square meter builing will stand 45 feet tall. The building will have two loading areas located on the north side of the building for trucks. You can also see the 14-foot wide driveways for truck access but 5-foot bike lanes will be added on either side for staff access.
The birds-eye view of the new Facebook data center complex is shown above, with a side impression shown below. The artist renderings have been generated by Chicago based Architectural firm Sheehan Partners.
So congratulations to the technical team for thinking big and picking a long-term solution for the #2 website in the world and for their impressive artist illustration of the new data complex, do you think they are going to paint the outside walls Facebook blue or sell advertising banners?

Related Images:

Kindle coming to Australia

Amazon appears to be allowing the world to enjoy it’s Kindle eBook device as of the 19th October 2009 and you can pre-order now for just $US279. This device has as much potential to change the consumption of Newspapers/Magazines & Books as did the iPod, and well ive been waiting ages for it to be finally released.  The current US version operated on a outdated wireless platform, but the new device allows for updates via 3G.

The device is slim almost as thin as most magazines, and much lighter than a typical paperback or weekend paper.  The advanced paper like display allows you to read the paper without glare and even in bright sunlight.  To make it perfect you can now carry your entire library with the capacity to hold up to 1500 books, selected from Amazon’s collection of 350,000 books, magazines and newspapers. Most of the reviews seem to say that you can save at least 30-40% of Newspaper subscriptions and you don’t have to wait for delivery, as soon as they hit the news stands you receive a digital copy.

This instant media fix is very helpful for those obsessed or their job requires them to read international newspapers  and magazines such as: New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Economist, Washington Post, USA Today or the New Yorker. With many companies such as News Corporation looking to build a wall around their online content, these devices present a good opportunity to get read for the next progression of media consumption.

Some of the new experimental features on the new version include “Text-to-Speech” where the Kindle can read newspapers, magazines, blogs and books out loud to you.  The best part is that the new releases and New York Times best sellers are cheaper priced at $9.99 on a kindle.

kindleKindle device technical details
Display: 6″ diagonal E Ink® electronic paper display, 600 x 800 pixel resolution at 167 ppi, 16-level gray scale.
Size: 203.2mm x 134.6mm x 9.1mm
Weight: 289.2 grams
System Requirements: None, check wireless coverage
Storage: 2GB internal (1.4GB available for content)
Battery Life Wireless ON: On a single charge for up to 4 days
Battery Life Wireless OFF: On a single charge up to two weeks
Connectivity: HSDPA modem (3G)
USB Port: USB 2.0 (micro-B connector) to connect to a PC or Macintosh computer
Device Audio: 3.5mm stereo jack OR rear-mounted stereo speakers
Formats Supported: Kindle (AZW), TXT, Audible (Audible Enhanced (AA, AAX)), MP3, unprotected MOBI, PRC natively; PDF, HTML, DOC, JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP through conversion.
Included Accessories: Power adapter (supports 100V-240V), USB 2.0 cable, rechargeable battery

Kindle Wireless Reading Device (6″ Display, U.S. & International Wireless, Latest Generation)