January 27, 2004

Amazon Launches New Social Network Called "Pricekut"

Customers Can Now See and Comment on the Contents of Other Customers' Shopping Carts

Seattle, WA /DenounceNewswire/ -- 27 January 2004 -- Amazon.com announced today the launch its own "social network", called Pricekut, allowing its customers to meet old friends and make new ones while shopping for products on the site. The catch? A customer can only enter the social network by first making a purchase on the site, or by having a friend buy an item on his or her wish list. Like its name suggests, Pricekut members may buy items for less than non-members: typically they'll save 10 to 25 percent on top of any existing discounts.

"This is by far the coolest feature we've ever released," said Jeff Bezos, Amazon CEO. "We wanted to make shopping at Amazon more fun and even more social than it is already, and I think our millions of customers are going to be amazed how much fun and addictive this new feature is."

Once a customer is a member of Pricekut, they can begin adding friends to their network. Unlike with other social network services like Friendster, Orkut, and LinkedIn, members of Amazon's Pricekut all have one activity and interest in common: they like to buy things at Amazon.com. Now they can save money buying even more things while discovering new friends in their network.

How Pricekut Works
"We've opened up two things to make Pricekut work," announced Jeff Bezos, Amazon's CEO. "First, for members of Pricekut, the recommendation engine will now tell you who among your network of friends actually bought or simply looked at an item in our store. Second, we've opened up shopping carts to all, enabling people to send instant-messaging-style comments on the contents of others' carts or, if they feel like it, buying one or more items in the cart as gifts!"

New Pricekut members are invited to fill out an extensive profile before they can begin participating in the network. The profile includes information such as first name, last name, home address, work address, social security number, race, skin color, hair color, dental records, identifying birthmarks, arrest record, political party affiliations, birth date, gender, sexual orientation, mother's maiden name, father's mother's maiden name, grandmother's maiden name, full medical history, current health insurance provider and all previous providers and their addresses and phone numbers, favorite music, favorite television shows, favorite books, least favorite music, least favorite televsion shows, least favorite books, favorite and least favorite movies, religious affiliation, gradeschool, high school, and college transcripts, car make, model, VIN, and license plate number, and driver's license number. Once users have filled out the form and read and agreed to the 93-page-long terms of service agreement, they can begin participating in the network.

Beta Testers React Positively
The Pricekut service had been in "beta test" for several months before its public unveiling today. Amazon reported today that beta testers especially enjoyed the new open shopping cart experience. Anna M., 36, of Spokane, said: "I couldn't believe it. I was minding my own business when all of a sudden this very nice man sent me a message saying, 'Here, I'd like to buy that for you.' That was a month ago. Now we're married!" Todd Z. of Brooklyn was equally ecstatic: "I'm finding it more fun to buy items in other people's shopping carts than the stuff in my own! Sooner or later I know somebody will come along and buy my stuff!"

Researchers at MIT's Center for Deconstructing Social Software were invited to study the beta testers over the past two months, and issued their preliminary findings today. Among the more significant findings is that despite a rich new infusion of valuable data collected from field studies and direct observation in beta testers' homes, they are still not able to exactly identify what "social software" means or what kinds of software is "social" and what isn't.

Future Plans
Bezos said the best is yet to come with Pricekut, which, by the way, is protected by sixty-two patents pending, including the ability to reach out with one's hand and hold a mouse to click on it. Later this year, Pricekut 2.0 will be released, offering the ability for members to not only see, comment on, and buy items that appear in their friends' shopping carts, but also to take the items out of others' carts and put them in their own. "This should drive people crazy!" said an excited Bezos. Posted by denounce on January 27, 2004 07:27 AM

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