Tobi Lutke on succeeding in an Amazon world

Amazon will never win all of online shopping, “even in Bezos’s wildest dreams,” Lutke said. The Seattle-based web retailer will exist for everything people need on a regular basis, like food, toilet paper and batteries, but for the stuff they desire rather than need, most people still want to shop, whether it’s in physical or online boutiques.

This is an interesting view of Amazon’s positioning in online retail, and the gap that it leaves for independents (and Shopify).

As for Facebook and Google, Shopify could be an e-commerce appendage that helps these companies keep a foothold in the space even as Amazon rolls on. Shopify has been building the operating system for independent merchants to sell online for years, and even if Instagram were to get over its hesitance to turn itself into an online mall, Shopify would still theoretically be powering all the boring, difficult stuff that comes with selling, like order tracking and logistics, Lutke said.

This is quite ambitious, and a bit too hopeful. Lutke has correctly identified the opportunity for Facebook and Google. However, his belief in F/G turning to Shopify, instead of enabling the independent merchants directly seems tenuous.

There may be an opportunity with Facebook, but Google has quietly been pursuing shopping, money, and commerce related products for a long time. Google does lack capabilities in order tracking and logistics, that it could offer merchants. But these aren’t capabilities that Google, or the merchants, couldn’t buy from other third parties. Logistics-as-a-service isn’t a category lacking in providers.

Irrespective of my qualms, I really like the thinking that Lutke has presented here. His view of the opportunity space, him using Amazon’s dominance into a selling point for Shopify both display the clarity of his mental model. I love that in a (not-anymore) startup CEO, all the more in one from a core developer background.

Dear Google, please make your assistant more ‘personal’

Talk to anyone who owns an Amazon Echo and they’ll soon tell you about how they find themselves having an odd fondness for Alexa - I can’t be the only one who often adds “please” and “thank you” to my commands.

BBC News, January 26, 2017 at 11:24AM

Glad to know I’m not the only one who says ‘please’ after every command to Google 🙂

But as long as Google forces you to bark “Okay Google”, Google Home will surely fail to become a personal assistant. It will be an assistant, sure, and a very good one at that. But it won’t be personal.

Despite being a regular voice-command user on my Nexus phone, I couldn’t agree with this more.

Why successful messaging apps are so scarce..

the most important feature of any messaging service is whether or not your friends are on it: if they are, your service can be very barebones (like WhatsApp), or technologically weak (like LINE, in my estimation), and it won’t really matter; however, if you’re friends are not on it, your service can be super full-featured and highly-differentiated (again, like LINE) and it won’t matter. The trick is to not just add users, but to add users by group, so that they have a reason to use the app from day one.

Stratechery Daily Update 2017-01-26, January 26, 2017 at 04:13PM