Amazon’s Over-The-Top iPad Move: What’s With Windowshop?

Written by Evan Schuman
October 28th, 2010

Amazon’s announcement Tuesday (Oct. 26) that it was creating a new branded product for the iPad is a surprisingly direct acknowledgment that Apple’s latest toy is in reality what so many marketers have falsely said about so many products: A true game changer.

Let’s look at what the world’s largest E-tailer said. Amazon—and tons of retailers—has made lots of ports to new platforms. You create a dedicated app and it has your brand on it. Or you craft a version of your product to run on the new platform. But Amazon, owner of one of the strongest brands in retail today, opted to give its iPad version an entirely new name: Windowshop.

It’s technically Amazon Windowshop, but if they wanted it to be called Amazon, they would have simply called it that. No, this will be called Windowshop.

More on that name choice in a moment, but let’s get back to what Amazon announced. The expected part is that the company said it was “a complete rewrite.” Every major port says that. But this is the stunner: The Amazon statement—in its first paragraph—said: “Many Amazon customers may prefer Amazon Windowshop even when a large screen Web interface is readily available.”

Amazon, the king of the Web’s commerce world, is dissing its own Web site? Envision this happening with any other product. Someone at Amazon has not only drunk the Apple Kool-Aid but is offering the company free commercials.

Yes, Amazon certainly wants every new version of its product to do well. But it was the new name that screamed this is a very different strategy.

About that name, Windowshop. The less political observation is that it’s an odd choice, in that the Oxford Dictionary (among others) defines it as “looking at the goods displayed in shop windows, especially without intending to buy anything.” That’s like launching a group of car dealerships called “The Not Serious Tire Kickers.”

Of course, the political element of that name is it was designed to drive Microsoft lawyers crazy. (In and of itself, that’s certainly a worthwhile goal.) Use “Windows” but find a common English word so the lawyers can’t quite stop you.


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