You can say what you want about greedy capitalists, money-mad CEOs and so forth, but you can't say there's no fighting spirit in American business anymore.
Here we have two companies, Google and Amazon, that already qualify for the Masters of the Universe title but neither is content to simply suck the bones of those it has already eaten and spit out.
Both continue to scour the battlefield, seeking survivors that it can feast upon. But as the field thins, the titans eventually cast their gaze upon each other.
And so it is that Google, master of the cyberworld, covets what may be the greatest marketing program of the modern era -- Amazon's Prime program. Amazon doesn't release details but anecdotal evidence -- you know, the kind you get looking in the mirror, talking to friends and eavesdropping on strangers -- indicates that Prime members are almost constantly buying something from Amazon.
Personally, not a day goes by that I don't buy a Kindle book or article, buy a piece of work-related electronics gear, order another few boxes of Keurig coffee or find an excuse to buy just a few more LED light bulbs (hey, we all have our little obsessions).
Lots of stuff
On the rare occasions when I visit an actual store, like Fry's football-field-sized electronics store in Burbank, I'm dumbfounded at how much stuff they have just sitting around, hoping someone will come along and buy it. I know, Amazon has all that stuff sitting around too but it's invisible to normal humans, i.e., those who don't work at Amazon.
So anyway, TechCrunch and other industry rags are saying that Google thinks it can match Amazon and steal away some of its prime Prime members, offering same-day delivery service, tentatively called Google Shopping Express.
Same-day delivery is sort of the Higgs Boson of retailing. It's really important but kind of hard to find when you need it.
Just how Google thinks it can zap stuff to you the same day when people like Amazon, Walmart and Best Buy haven't managed to roll it out on any kind of scale other than one small enough to fit on your kitchen counter is a question that's still unanswered.
Will it use those driverless Google cars to make the deliveries, maybe? That's fine but how will it get the package from the car to your door -- shoot it from a cannon? Or maybe Big G will have its own air force of drones that will fly over and drop the stuff on your house?
No, it's not quite that exotic. Apparently, from published reports, Google is hoping to serve as a "store shelf" for existing brick-and-mortar stores, like Target and Walgreens. You order the stuff and somebody grabs it off the shelf and zips it over to you.
This is sort of where Google has been headed for a long time. As my colleague Jim Hood pointed out yesterday, Google was once a search engine that, if you wanted to buy a car, helped you find the online sites that would take you to the dealers that had the car you wanted. It's now working to squeeze out the online sites and, for all we know, may hope to crush the dealers as well.
Why not? Want a car, Google it and it will drive itself over to you. Need toothpaste? Google Shopping Express is there for you.
Like Amazon Prime, Google Shopping Express would not be free. You'd pay $70 or so a year. Perhaps, just like Amazon, you'd get free video streaming from Google Play and so forth and so on.
It all sounds just peachy, I guess, though it sometimes seems like grown people with fancy degrees ought to spend their lives on something a little more important, doesn't it? Like that Higgs Boson thing.