We've been confused by Amazon's decision to turn against Alexaholic, a site that made Amazon's Alexa data a lot more useful. While the trademark issue was sort of understandable (though, even that could be challenged), once the site changes its name to Statsaholic, it seems like Amazon shouldn't have any problems with the site. That's why folks were left scratching their heads when they blocked the site and started threatening it. Earlier this week at the Web 2.0 Expo, Tim O'Reilly challenged Jeff Bezos on stage about how he could talk about Amazon's plan to power the web as a platform while shutting down the very sites that were making use of that platform. Bezos danced incredibly awkwardly around the question and it was unclear how much of the situation he understood. He kept falling back on the trademark issue, even though that wasn't the main issue at all. He finally said something suggesting that it was the Alexa group making a "business decision," but refused to explain how that view fits with Amazon's other statements about encouraging and enabling "web 2.0" type concepts. Apparently, part of the reason for Bezos awkwardness was that the company was in the process of suing Statsaholic, though it hadn't been announced yet. It's a bit bizarre that a service that Alexa's product manager had previously praised is now being attacked by the company for doing the same thing it was originally praised for doing. It's hard to see this as anything but sour grapes from Amazon for its own inability to build something as cool or as useful as Statsaholic. Normally, that would just be annoying -- but when the company is going around and pitching itself as being an enabler of web 2.0 infrastructure, it seems like this lawsuit has the potential to be incredibly damaging to Amazon's credibility in the space -- and that's absolutely going to hurt a lot more than some random site scraping free Alexa charts.
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