The Geography Of Amazon.Com Essay

1099 words - 4 pages

The Geography of Amazon.comAmazon.com has several important geographical dimensions - both real and virtual. For any Internetcompany the principle public face is their web site. Amazon.com's web site is vital - it is its storefront to the world. Web sites are a form of geography - geography of the screen. It is easy to use and crucially, fast loading over home modems with only a few small graphics. The site is also backed up with innovations such as one-click ordering. To explore the virtual space of Amazon's web site one either browses or uses keyword searching. Web pagesare generated from databases of the many millions of books, CDs, videos and gifts that Amazon stocks. The geography of the screen is a world in miniature, totally under the control of the designers (Johnson 1997). The design and usability of web sites is an area of increasing concern given the rising number of people who are accessing information and services via this medium. This is notnecessarily an area for geographical concern being more at the scale of architecture (Wurman 1997) and design (Jacobson 1999). The major reasons people shop online is the speed and convenience, however too many web site designs fail seriously to meet these requirements (Chaplin 1999). Key problems are difficulties with site navigation, confusion over how to order and most especially slowloading pages. This all impacts directly on the experience of shopping online. Amazon is better than many e-commerce sites and this is reflected in its growing number of customers (table 1) and high volume of repeat business. For some, usability is also an issue of accessibility, for example when sites are rendered completely unusable for people with disabilities (Waddell 1999). As well as screen space, domain space is a vital commodity in today's Internet. The history of the domain name system means there is an artificial scarcity of names in the prized com portion, with people launching a 'land-grab' for the short, memorable name (Shaw 1997). A good domain name is vital to the establishment of an online presence. It is much more important than an address in the real-world. This is illustrated by the high prices companies are willing to pay to secure the most appropriate and memorable name, for example the BBC buying bbc.com or Compaq paying over $3million for altavista.com (Bicknell 1999). Amazon is clearly symonymous with its domain name, but beyond its core web sites (amazon.com, amazon.co.uk and amazon.de) it has also made a land grab of its own, registering over forty additional names under .com alone. Table 2 lists these names and it is clear many are related to its core retailing areas of books, videos and music. Other names havebeen registered for future expansion and also to lock out 'carpet-baggers'; still it is interesting tospeculate what plans they have for amazontv.com.AMAZON-AUCTION.COM BOOK-STORE.COM AMAZONMUSIC.COMAUCTIONAMAZON.COM RELENTLESS.COM BOOKMATCHER.COMAMAZON.COM MUSICMATCHER.COM...

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