The list of things people repeat as if they are evil or some secret plan continues to surprise me: “ads”, private label, loss leaders, loyalty cards/benefits, price incentives…Amazon generational innovation is in distribution and efficiency, like every mass market retailer ever.
October 2003. What did Walmart do? Focus on distribution and efficiency. Everything they did had been done before, just not as well.
Set in 1990 -- Walmart competing with legendary K-Mart.
Walmart giving suppliers a hard time.
Walmart and private label
Walmart muscling P&G over distribution to gain price advantages over other outlets.
Walmart buys a grocery chain...1991
Loyalty cards -- imagine paying $125 for discount hotel rooms and free chips so you would then gamble in the 1980s. And don't forget S&H Green Stamps and the right to pay full retail for a random catalog of stuff to buy from certain outlets peak 1970s.
The evils of "ads" on a web site are simply the online equivalent of slotting fees everywhere from a supermarket to consumer electronics. 1988 was 6 years before Amazon existed, 15 before it sold food, 20 before "advertising".

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More from @stevesi

1 Jun
With the excitement over the "Friends" reunion, I wanted to share this video, "The Windows 95 Video Guide" which was released with Windows 95 in August 1995. It aged just about as well as Friends. 1/

Windows 95 Video Guide (1995)
2/ If you're curious about just how much "crap" people went through to use a computer 25 years ago then this is a wonderful time capsule.

There's a section on 20 FAQs and each one is a tech support nightmare. Also, constant reminders about tech support in general.

Example: How does Windows 95 connect to the internet?Three option: The Microsoft Network, Microsoft PlusManually connect: obtain and internet PPP or SLIP account Us
3/ There are other fantastic questions such as "Can Windows 95 run Macintosh software" tl;dr, NO.
Read 6 tweets
31 May
Telling the Untold Story in "Hardcore Software" (inside the rise and fall of the PC revolution) tells the story of Microsoft's famous pivot to the Internet. Writing on @substack draws out fun stories from a community of readers adding even more. Example: ……
2/ Shared the behind the scenes details of a cover story in July '96 BusinessWeek magazine giving a timeline of events leading to Microsoft's big bet on open internet technologies (aka "embrace and extend"). Story opened with this quote from the employee newsletter, _MicroNews_. Magazine cover of businessweekFirst page of article. Has "Inside Microsoft: The untol
3/ I got a note from former Microsoftie Dean Ballard, former developer on the TrueType team (and among other things named Trebuchet typeface). Turns out DeanBal authored "Battle Hymn" which he documents here including a fun series of MicroNews letters. Full text of Battle Hymn reproduced from the original MicroN
Read 8 tweets
27 May
Narratives are a powerful concept that make difficult concepts easy (and even fun, interesting) for us to understand. BUT they also come with some rish—risk from abstracting out important details and context that might diverge from facts. This happens quite a bit… 1/
2/ I want to talk about this in context of business because there's a lot going on where compelling narratives are taking hold, which sound like big problems or a lesson from business history but might hold us back collectively from finding solutions or understnading challenges.
3/ This is not a new problem and to be clear it isn't one to ascribe to malice. In fact it is most always a simple form of confirmation bias or "that just makes sense" combined with a bit of "if that's true it fits super well with a broader narrative."…
Read 23 tweets
25 May
What did a corporate network look like in 1994? Here are some slides I made in the summer of 1994 for the interns. MS had 35,000 PCs sending 12.2 million email messages a month. Also, MS had 23 mini computers and a mainframe with 3.2 terabytes of disk space. 1/ End user stats such as 35,000 PCsOperations includes 22,000 batch jobsThe network itself has 35,000 nodes and 80km of fiber.The network topology is a hub and spoke from redmond.
2/ Why is this so interesting? Because companies around the world were building out networks like this right when the Internet arrived. The Internet upended how to think about connectivity. A BigCo connected to the internet versus making its own Intranet.
3/ Many of us were incredibly excited by the opportunity the Internet brought us. Sitting in a hallway outside a the TCP/IP Dev Manager's office was Microsoft's FTP server. No demand gen. Spontaneous usage! FTP Server usage 65000 users every week downloading 280000 f
Read 7 tweets
22 May
What is it like to experience disruption? Is it a bolt of lightning or does it happen in slow motion? Is it obvious and if it is, who thinks that?

In "Hardcore Software" I'm telling the story of how Microsoft was confronted by the internet in 1994. 1/ ……
2/ The phrase "disruption" wasn't even around in 1994. In fact the original paper was months away before the language it created came to define the internet. (not yet "Innovator's Dilemma") HBR: Disruptive Technologies: Catching the Wave
3/ When we first saw breadth of internet technologies all at once, it was still easy to dismiss for the reasons one can imagine. They didn't work as well, they were free, and so on.

I had to become an "evangelist" for the internet. I learned very valuable lessons very quickly.
Read 15 tweets
19 May
Transforming from app/service to platform often (not always) involves adding extensibility (API) for other companies or customers to use. Using extensibility aside from solving a missing capability, is sticky and good for biz. Some patterns, traps, pitfalls & lessons 1/
2/ Most SaaS can be thought of as "mostly about data", "mostly about experience", or "mostly about an API", especially early. Over time most apps will naturally expand to be more of what it isn't, normal. To speed expansion and feature coverage, extensibility to the rescue.
3/ An app that is mostly about storing data will often expand to both ingest more data but to also display/report/synthesize data. Early on exposing an API that allows more data to be ingested or allows other tools to serve as front ends is natural.
Read 23 tweets

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