For some time, Amazon has been trying to position itself as not just a web retailer, but a web platform as well. The company has come out with a number of services that allow third parties to rent out storage and computing power, which is something the company should be commended for. But apparently this strategy isn't pervasive throughout the company. Amazon's Alexa unit, which tries (poorly, some might argue) to track web traffic, has been embroiled in a spat with the site Statsaholic, which until recently was called Alexaholic. Statsaholic's strategy was to take Alexa's data and present it in a matter that's far more usable than the way Alexa presents it. TechCrunch has a nice writeup of the history between the two parties, but the gist is that Amazon seemed to tolerate, or even encourage, Alexaholic, until it built all of Alexaholic's functionality into its own site, at which point it went on the attack. First it went after the company's domain name, Alexaholic.com, which was arguably infringing on Alexa's trademark. Then Amazon blocked off access to its graphs and data, effectively disabling the renamed Statsaholic. While Amazon may have felt that it was in its legal rights to block off third-party use of its graphs, it's still not clear how it benefits from the move. Hasn't Amazon seen the success of other companies that allow their data and content to be repurposed on other sites? It's a particularly perplexing move from a company that claims to want to be the web platform. Instead of blocking off Statsaholic, it ought to have figured out a way to profit from this arrangement. But when lawyers are guiding a company's strategy, it can't expect much in the way of creative solutions.
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