Why did Amazon kill Amazon explore? Let me start this rant by admitting I am an Amazon fan. I love the large selection of merchandise and the quick delivery. I’m a member of Prime and I frequently use their credit card. Still, they do enough boneheaded things that I sometimes wonder if they are running their business using the same AI bombarding me with emails touting an item I bought days earlier.
When Amazon discontinued Kindle Write On within weeks of my starting to use it, I was disappointed enough to write about it, Still the answer was obvious, there was no money in it for Amazon and if you check their current line up, there are plenty of mediocre writers jumping onto the Kindle bandwagon.
Amazon Explore was different though, Amazon was making money on it. True they were using their webservers to host the sessions and if my wife and I were any guide, they were storing a lot of pictures. If you’re not familiar with Amazon Explore, they provided a video link to guides in different locations or willing to teach you different skills. You can see what I wrote about it here, link.
Between my wife and I, we went to Rome (4 times), Naples, Venice, Prague, Berlin, Pompei, Jerusalem, Japan (5 times), Taipei, and Paris. We also learned about raising bees in Costa Rica, how to make pasta in Italy, how to make salsa in Mexico, how to make Bulgogi from a native Korean, researching genealogy in Scotland, reptiles in America, and all about flower bulbs right here in Texas. We also met a number of very nice people in those sessions .
It’s true that sometimes we had a poor connection and a few times our guide had questionable connection. If you’ve ever been in a Zoom meeting, you know how it goes. Amazon even went so far as to refund my wife for a tour that ended five minutes early because the guide lost his connection. Truthfully, she was more disappointed that the guide probably did not get paid for the tour.
It’s true that Explore was always listed as a beta service but Amazon was constantly adding new tours and improving options. Why then did they cancel it?
Were Amazon to ask me about improvements, I’d start by policing some of their external vendors. For example, one of my vices, Cool Ranch Doritos, a 10.4 oz package for $14. Walmart only charges $4.98 for a larger bag. Amazon is ripping me off! Of course, if I read the fine print on Amazon’s price gouging offer, I notice it’s being sold by one of Amazon’s partners not Amazon. The partner is the one doing the price gouging.
The problem here is that most people never read the fine print and automatically assume that Amazon is engaged in predatory pricing based on shortages. Talk about destroying your reputation.
Or maybe, actually applying some AI to the book lists they keep suggesting for me. Amazon, please, A quick look at my history shows I buy Science Fiction and Technical books. Suggesting romance novels for me seems like the same sort of decision making that created the Fire phone.
I’m sure Amazon Explore required a number of people to support it. Given human nature, there were probably prospective guides providing less value than most of Amazon’s free Kindle books and there will always be people developing “network problems” during the last few minutes to get their tour for free. These problems were surmountable.
After the shutdown announcement, my wife treated herself to several of the tours she had been considering. On each tour a similar conversation took place, no idea why Amazon was shutting Amazon Explore down but very sorry to see it go. However, now that Amazon Explore was shutting down a few of the guides suggested similar services. Needless to say, we will be checking those out.
So why did I write this? As you read this post, Amazon Explore is no longer available. I certainly have no hope of someone from Amazon reading this and thinking, “he’s right, this ranks right up there with Facebook’s name change, we need to restart Explore right now.” Now that’s wishful thinking. Nope, not going to happen. Once a decision has been made, executives at that level have way too much ego involved to reverse course.
Sadly, I’m writing this to remind my future self not to embrace any of Amazon’s offerings too strongly. I’ll never know why they chose to shut down Amazon Explore, my wife and I will greatly miss it but given Amazon’s track record, we all need to be very leery of any new products or services they offer. Enjoy what they offer today but don’t plan on any of it being supported tomorrow.
A few more of our favorite memories:
© 2022, Byron Seastrunk. All rights reserved.