The push is on to sell the Kindle Fire, the tablet that might be Amazon entrepreneur Jeff Bezos’s riskiest move yet. The device is just the latest step in the evolution of the seamless shopping experience. The Kindle Fire, which Bezos is selling at an attractively low price, is just another tool for making it easier to consume Amazon products. The core theme of this book is a known one– that Bezos will do anything he can to make shopping on Amazon easier. What makes this book fascinating is the lengths that he will go to. Future ideas to make shopping easier include a gift converter that will swap out undesirable gifts before they even ship and ways of ordering that could involve gestures such as nods or eyebrow raises rather than clicks or swipes.
The portrait of a young and ambitious Bezos in this book is not dissimilar from biographies of Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and other giants of the tech world. The precocious brilliance, the arrogance and the love of risk taking are all in place. Bezos may lack Jobs’ passion for design or Gates’ appetite for technology but he has other gifts including a very sharp sense of focus when it comes to growing a business. He didn’t just create a product or service, for better or worse, he redefined an industry and having conquered one, proceeded to the next, with what seems to be a goal of providing everything from groceries to electronics for as many people as possible. He is visionary and he is notoriously difficult.
Brandt isn’t the first to chronicle Bezos or the early heady days of Amazon as a start-up but what he brings to the topic is the gift of the longview, seeing just how far online shopping has come and the role that Amazon played in that evolution. He is relatively objective regarding Bezos himself, giving an impartial view of a man who is in the grips of nearly limitless ambition. This book doesn’t have the depth of some other recent tech biographies such as Walter Isaacson’s examination of Steve Jobs but it is an easy-to-read summary of the explosive growth of one of most intriguing modern companies.
Where is Bezos headed? In his goal to provide everything to everyone he has created a series of electronic devices to help meet those goals. The first Kindle just provided a distribution system for e-books; the later iterations provide ways to reach all of Amazon’s offerings. He continues to gobble up companies that either would be competitors such as Zappos or offer a way to upgrade Amazon’s technology. His long range goal appears to be one shared by billionaires such as Paul Allen and Richard Branson: space travel for the masses. The three men have a lot in common, brilliance, ambition, arrogance and vision. One Click won’t make you love Jeff Bezos but it shows just how large a role he has played in modern commerce and technology.