Many of the things we interact with on a daily basis have some sort of influence on us. Given how much time we, and especially the younger generations spend scrolling social media on our phones, it is no wonder that what is called social shopping is extremely popular. If a member of Gen Z has a favorite person he follows on Instagram, spending possibly hours a day just scrolling that one person’s posts, listening to their stories, that means there is a degree of admiration, or a desire to be like them. Should this Instagram influencer post about some favorite brand for a product, then it is entirely likely that our hypothetical follower will be buying whatever is being sold. It’s even more obvious when you realize that for Gen Z social media is their preferred source of information. That’s where they spend their time, get information, and get entertained; it’s no wonder that is where they are also spending their money.
If you think about it, this is really nothing new. We are influenced by what we see and hear, even more so if the person doing the advertising is someone we recognize. That’s why cigarette companies used to spend millions getting celebrities to pose in their ads, or why Bud Light commercials are so memorable, or why the typical Michael Bay movie has more product placement than the Super Bowl. All of that is designed to influence us to buy certain products.
No one is really immune either. No, not even you. You almost certainly have a t-shirt with a favorite band, or movie, or just some cool company you like to support. ‘But, I wasn’t influenced! I just happen to like that stuff!’ Yes, that is exactly how it works. Don’t worry, it isn’t even necessarily bad. After all, you need a shirt. If you want to pay a couple extra bucks for a shirt with a picture of One Punch Man on it, more power to you. I have several from brands I bought for the express purpose of supporting the brand, even though I can assure you I don’t need another shirt.
Naturally enough, social media companies have been figuring this out and plenty of apps allow you to buy things directly through them. Instagram for example has a cool carousel with just a few products in it that should be related to whatever you are checking out at the moment.
Brands have also been finding new ways to capitalize on the trend. They will often seek out popular influencers, or YouTubers or another popular user of a given app and ask them to feature their products. Depending on the nature of the channel and the company, that results in a company paying a person or just allowing them to keep the product in exchange for a review. In this way, the company gets to make sure its products are getting in front of the audience most likely to buy it. That’s a win-win situation for the company because their conversion rate goes up, the influencer makes some side money or at least gets some free gear, and the buyer gets more in depth knowledge about a product or brand he is buying and a more convenient way to do so. Many influencers even have the integrity to not give a positive review if they just don’t like a given product, meaning the buyer can have higher confidence the products will work as advertised.
If you think about it, what these brands are doing, reaching out to a narrow audience but one that is more likely to be interested in them is very similar to what we advocate for at TARTLE. A brand like Patagonia is clearly using their data to determine where they should best spend their advertising dollars. They are going right to the source when they find influencers using their products who already have an audience to help sell their brand. That is a solid use of data and social media platforms that helps everyone, which we can definitely get behind.
What’s your data worth? www.tartle.co
Reflections on FOMO
Hot on the heels of our last article seems like a good time to think just a bit more about FOMO and its effects and how it is often used against us. For those just jumping in, FOMO is the Fear of Missing Out, a sense of anxiety that comes from being aware of or even just thinking there are cool things happening that you aren’t a part of. It’s fear that you are being left out and left behind by everyone around you. Alex and Jason discussed it in depth with the person who coined the term, Patrick McGinnis. I highly recommend you head over to T-Cast to check it out.
FOMO is normally associated with social media but it certainly exists outside of Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. FOMO in a sense is just another term for good old-fashioned peer pressure. If you think everyone is going to a party every weekend, you naturally think you should too. If you don’t you’re missing out and if you are worried about what people think about you (and let’s be honest, pretty much everyone does to some degree) then that will cause some anxiety. So most people will go out for some heavy drinking every night on the weekends. Don’t get me wrong, I like a good beer or whisky but there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. Indulging too much will not only lead to you doing a bunch of stuff you might not remember the next day, it also means you will likely need a couple days to fully recover and be productive again.
Chris Williamson, podcast host and motivational speaker was in a similar cycle when he realized that he was wasting a lot of time. He made the choice to quit drinking for a thousand days and upped his productivity by orders of magnitude, just by not giving in to the pull of the crowd, by not giving in to FOMO. It allowed him to stop and think about what he wanted to do, independent of everyone else. Suddenly, Chris had the freedom to exclude himself and be happy with that.
Those kinds of situations are also exacerbated by social media. People post pictures of themselves having a great time day after day but never post the aftermath. They leave out the puking in the toilet, the crashed car, the stressing over bills and everything else. It’s a distorted view of reality and a lot more people should probably take the Williamson route and step away a bit.
Plenty of companies naturally make use of FOMO. Nearly every ad for every product or service is built on making you think you need something to be cool. Every cigarette ad back in the day had some ridiculously good looking model taking a nice long drag on a lung dart. It was designed to make you think all the cool kids were doing it. It’s not much different from anything else, they want to get your attention and FOMO is an incredibly powerful tool for making that happen.
Even if you don’t quite fit into the algorithms they will still be gunning for your attention and your wallet. It isn’t like the marketers stop sending you ads, they just spam you with random stuff until you click on something. Suddenly the algorithm has a hook and you might just find yourself with more ads related to that one thing. They’re trying to draw you into the way they see the world and get you to spend your money and time on what they want.
How do you fight that? You realize what is happening, that these companies, while useful, are not your friend. They don’t want to be, they just want you to think so. Realizing what is going on enables you to make a choice, then change your behaviors and step away from the crowd, to choose your own path with your money, your data, and your time.
What is your sovereignty worth? www.tartle.co
We’ve spent the last little while talking about some of the many problems we see out there regarding the way people abuse data privacy and the many ways companies and governments will take advantage of people’s ignorance of how data is collected and sold. We’ve also taken the time to go back over some of the TARTLE philosophy, and even interact with our TikTok audience. One thing we haven’t done in a while is highlight something that is specifically good. So, we decided to use this post to focus on a company that is committed to doing good.
Which business would that be? Would you believe none other than Caesars Entertainment? Yes, that Caesars with the casinos full of blackjack tables and slot machines. It turns out that the casino giant is one of the most responsible companies in the United States. This begs an obvious question, how can a company that literally thrives on taking people’s money be considered responsible? After all, in addition to the money, casinos are typically the kind of idol to modern consumerism that would normally be complaining about.
First, no one is really being swindled if you think about it. If anyone goes into a casino expecting to get rich, they might be just a little delusional. Hoping is one thing, expecting is another. Regardless, if you are walking into a casino, you know what you are getting into.
Second, Caesars is dedicated to giving back to the community in a number of ways. They look out for their customers, the environment, the local community, and their employees. This is difficult on all counts as they have locations in multiple countries around the world. That means they have to take their standards and apply them within a number of different cultures and regulatory frameworks.
One way they give back is by making an effort to hire military veterans. Those who go into the armed forces don’t always come out with quantifiable skill sets that translate into the modern job market, which can make finding a decent paying job difficult. Caesars helps out with their Enlisting Heroes program.
Caesars also puts a lot of effort into combating human trafficking, a problem that remains significant around the world. This contributes to their 100% score on human rights from the Human Rights Campaign. They also are very transparent when it comes to how they spend their money. One can see why since they recently spent over $7 billion over the course of a year to help their stakeholders. Notice, they said ‘stakeholders’ not ‘shareholders’. That right there sets an impressive tone for how Caesars entertainment plans on conducting itself. Just the communities around the casinos got over 67 million and the employees gave over 400,000 hours of volunteer work.
The best part of all of this is that it shows that Caesars Entertainment is actually intent on following through on its mission statement. Too often, such things are just words with no real meaning behind them. Mission statements can typically be dismissed as a bunch of empty platitudes that the company puts out to create the impression that they care. Caesar’s by contrast is setting an example by not just crafting a statement but by actually putting it into practice.
TARTLE would love to help run more studies to see how other companies are faring. Or to help companies conduct internal surveys to see what the employees think about how the company is doing. Often, management will think they are doing great while the employees are less than enthusiastic. In that case, the cause is either that management is either out of touch with the needs of their employees or are just very bad at communicating what is actually happening. Whichever the case, it would be good to know so the company can learn what to do and what not to do.
What’s your data worth?
Tik Tok Four
Tic toc, tic toc, it’s time for TikTok again. One of our favorite things to do when there is a little bit of downtime at TARTLE HQ is to go through comments on our TikTok videos and interact a bit with our audience. This is our fourth go around with our TikTokers so let’s jump into it.
Debt was a big topic of conversation this time around, with some calling for regulations on the amount of debt one should be allowed to take on, some taking issue with our stance against mortgages, and some pointing out that debt is actually a pretty important tool for business.
First, let’s be clear, debt in general is not good. Anytime you owe money to someone else, they have something they can hold over you. When you have a debt you have to pay, that means you are tied into making enough money to ensure you can pay it. That’s true whether you have $4000 in credit card debt, a $400,000 mortgage, or a $4,000,000 loan to start a business. It’s just a good recommendation for people and businesses to have as little debt as possible. That applies to countries as well but that’s a whole other ball of wax.
As for regulations on the amount of debt you can have, that would be a huge knot of legislation. Different people can afford different levels of debt, and as someone pointed out debt is actually a tool used in business. Whether that’s good or not is, once again, another conversation entirely. Not to mention, too tight a regulation would get in the way of the person who has a great idea to get a new business started and just needs a start-up load to get it off the ground.
Mortgages are a bit different. Renting lets you be flexible, but owning a home is still preferable for a lot of people who want their space for their projects or those with families. Again, just don’t take on more than you can handle. It’s undeniable that a lot of people take on far more house debt than they can really manage. The powers that be suggest up to 25% of your monthly income for a house payment. That’s nuts. One, that doesn’t necessarily take into account property tax, two, that’s just too much of your income when there are still other bills and emergencies. Aim for a lot lower and get that thing paid off as quickly as possible. Then, in addition to all the benefits of owning a home, you get most of the benefits of renting since you can sell for a lot less if you need to pull up stakes quickly.
The point is, don’t take on debt unless you need to. Definitely don’t do it just so you can have stuff that you don’t need. Are you taking out a loan for a $50,000 car when you could pay $8000 in cash for a used one that will do the job just as well? If the answer is yes, definitely reconsider.
Enough on that. Another commented on automation being big in the future, especially in farming. Soon, the tractor will be going around the field on its own, harvesting crops without needing a bathroom break. We’re actually closer to that than many think. We already have Teslas with autopilot and other automated cars are well into the testing phase. Automated farm equipment is not a huge leap from there.
Going back to money related issues, plenty of you commented on the scam known as the credit system. Could not agree more. It is something designed to incentivize consumerism and debt. It hurts individuals, families, society, and the planet. If you have a card – and you practically need one these days – pay it off every month. Trust us, it’s a lot better.
That will wrap things up for this visit to TikTok. Keep the comments and questions coming and we’ll be back soon.
What’s your data worth?
A Familiar Facebook
What if I told you I had an idea? What if that idea was to build a platform that let millions of people around the world make their own little website for free? A natural question would be how on earth I would expect to pay for it much less make any money from it.
It turns out the answer to that question is simple. You let all those millions generate content for you so that people will go to your platform. Then you contract with other, bigger companies to throw a bunch of ads up on everyone’s sites. Even better, you get a little kickback every time someone buys something from those ads. Sounds like genius right? What if I told you it gets even better? What if this platform were to collect all kinds of data about everyone using it so that you could make sure they see the ads that are most likely to get their attention? Oh, but that isn’t even everything. It turns out this platform could even get all that data and sell it to a variety of third parties. And yes, it would all be completely legal because to make use of this platform everyone would agree to a list of terms of service that would make the most experienced and conniving lawyer yank his hair out. In short, this idea is to provide a rough framework so that millions can generate tons of data that will help us sell other people’s things to them and then we even sell the data.
That is the basic model of Facebook and pretty much every major social media company. Now, depending on your perspective, this is genius, megalomaniacal, or both. What pushes it closer to the megalomaniacal end of the spectrum is the fact that as much money as this model generates (in the billions) it still apparently is not enough. Facebook and everyone else continues to seek out new and innovative ways to get you to part with your money and one of the most recent actually got them in a bit of hot water.
Where did this happen? In Illinois, which happens to have some of the toughest biometric security laws in the United States. The issue that got the attention of people there was Facebook’s use of facial recognition software. It turns out that they have started scanning and storing images of people’s faces in their servers. They do this through both the photos people upload and the new facial recognition log on options. They then cross-reference your face with others to suggest people you should tag in photos, suggest to other people they should tag you and make friend request suggestions. Not only is Facebook scanning and storing your face, not only are they using it to flood your feed with interactions you might not want, and likely doing it all to build a more complete profile so they can advertise to you even more effectively, they are doing it all without your consent.
This got a lot of people complaining and a class-action lawsuit was brought in the state of Lincoln. It was recently settled with 1.6 million users getting paid $300 each. That’s $480 million. As much as that is, Facebook operates to the tune of billions of dollars. So that is settlement may not be exactly a chump change but it isn’t breaking the bank either. Will it be enough to send a message that Facebook and others should at least ask permission first? One would hope. After all, how hard would it be to ask? Just tell people what is wanted and why and then they have the option to go along with it or not. These companies need to stop acting like they own everyone’s data.
That’s what makes TARTLE different. When you sign up with us, we don’t own your data, you do. You decide if it gets shared and why it does. You make money from it. It’s so simple, yet basic simplicity and decency are now revolutionary.
What’s your data worth?
Tik Tok Questions Return
It’s been a little bit since we last sat down to answer questions from our many Tik Tok followers. Today seems like a great time to get right back into it so let’s start with one about blockchain. Specifically, how do we envision blockchain penetrating into the mainstream since currently more than 90% of people have no idea what it is? It seems doomed to remain in a niche market.
What we expect to happen with blockchain is that a lot of organizations will start using it on their own and their customers will find themselves using it through various companies or other institutions. Put simply, one day we’ll wake up and realize that blockchain is being used all around us.
What about Facebook, you ask? Unfortunately, that link still isn’t working. As before, Facebook constantly changes the rules which makes it very difficult for others to remain compliant with whatever those rules are. And let’s be honest, it’s easy to see how they would think it’s in Facebook’s interest to make it harder for companies like TARTLE to work with them. They haven’t got past seeing us as potential disruptors rather than an ally. Still, we have developers diligently working with the proper representatives to get us back on track with Facebook.
Someone out there also proposed the idea of people getting paid to watch all those video ads that show up in the middle of your favorite YouTube show. After all, these ads are taking time from us and getting in the way of what we are actually there for. That sounds like a great idea to TARTLE. After all, just the simple act of watching that video generates useful data for the parent company. It doesn’t seem completely unreasonable that viewers get something for their trouble.
We talk and even borderline gush about the potential for AI a fair amount here. One of our commenters brought up the common objection that AI will eventually displace a great number of jobs, causing massive ripple effects through society. That is a valid concern, at least at first. However, if we have learned anything since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution it’s that new technologies are indeed often disruptive and lead to the end of many jobs. However, they often lead to the creation of new ones. When wagons were replaced by cars, more jobs were available, not less. While computers put typewriter manufacturers out of business, they created a vast number of professions in design, manufacturing, and software engineers. There is no reason to assume that AI would be different in the long run. Not to mention, TARTLE is helping to create new opportunities in the digital age by giving you another revenue stream in the form of selling your data.
Another Tik Tok-er observed that major governments are starting to take notice of Bitcoin and are funneling money into it. The question is, do we think that they are realizing that the Federal Reserve and fiat currency is in trouble and are trying to take control of the crypto market? That’s a long question but the answer is short – yes.
To wrap this up, we’ll answer a serious, if somewhat snarky question: who are we and what do we do with your data? To answer the first part, we are people on a mission. That mission is to help empower others to regain control of their data, to be able to share it as you wish. And not just to share it but to be rewarded for doing so both financially and in the satisfaction of using it to help a cause you care about. What do we do with it? Not a thing.
Keep the questions and comments coming and before long we’ll do another one of these sessions. And in the meantime, we’ll leave you with a question of our own –
What’s your data worth?
Tik Tok Round the Clock
After a run of pretty dense episodes ranging from TARTLE’s long-term goals to climate issues to brain scans, we thought it would be a good idea to revisit our lively TikTok community and respond to some questions and comments. Let’s jump right in, shall we?
We got a couple of comments about ongoing issues with the user interface at tartle.co. First, those comments come from people who are already signed up, the early adopters and we owe you a debt of gratitude. Without people willing to take the leap of faith early on, none of this would be possible. People like you help blaze the trails that others will follow.
To the issue at hand though, we should have TARTLE 2.0 rolled out any day now. In fact, it may already be out in the wild before this post is public. The new and improved site will make the process of signing up with and effectively using TARTLE much, much easier. The reason why it has been difficult until now is because when TARTLE was first getting started it was just Alex developing the site. When it’s just one person working on it, he knows everything backwards and forwards and assumes everyone else will find it just as intuitive as he does. With no one else to bounce things off of, to point out the flaws, something goes out that at first seems simple, until other people take a crack at it. Incidentally, this is why writers have editors. They exist to point out the areas of a story that people who don’t know all the off page details won’t understand.
In any case, we have a team in place now working on those details and filling the gaps that one person working alone just doesn’t see. In addition to having a new and much easier-to-handle website in place, we should be able to respond to new issues much faster than before.
What about our name? We get questions about this pretty often. If you’ve been here a while you know TARTLE is originally a Scottish term that refers to the awkward pause when two recently introduced strangers are trying to remember each other’s names. This might seem strange for some, but it emphasizes the anonymity of both parties, the fact that in that moment, they don’t really know one another yet. It also points to the potential relationship to come. In that moment, you are both unknowns, after that awkward moment, the situation changes, you are known to each other and it could be the beginning of a wonderful new relationship.
There was also an energetic discussion on the description of mortgage as Latin for ‘death grip’. Whether that was the exact meaning or if the origin is really French, and that sort of thing. The point is, be careful with going into debt, especially those sixty-year mortgages for a two-bedroom townhome in California. Almost no one will ever actually pay that off.
Finally, while we have early adopters, we also have the skeptics, those who think – or fear – that TARTLE is fake in some way. There isn’t much to say to that except we encourage you to check us out. Do all the research you want into us. Sign up with us and you have the freedom to share as much or as little data as you like. Don’t worry, we won’t be pressuring you, we just ask that you give us a chance. Then perhaps, after we’ve gotten past that awkward phrase, we can form a relationship and you’ll join us and thousands of others in trying to change the world.
What’s your data worth?
Tik Tok Q&A
Guest what? TARTLE has a Tik Tok account! It’s one of our favorite places to post and interact both with members of TARTLE and with people curious about us and what we do. Recently Alex and Jason sat down to answer a few questions from the TARTLE Tik Tok community. Below are some of the better or more fun questions and answers.
Let’s deal with a serious one first, and one we get pretty often.
Question: What does TARTLE do with your data?
Answer: The answer of course is simple, we don’t do anything with your data. We don’t sell it, we don’t even use it for our own benefit without your consent. What we do is collect and store it in an encrypted format so that you can sell it when you chose, to whom you choose, for whatever reason you choose using the TARTLE data marketplace. That’s it, and yes, it is that simple.
Q: Does big tech need to die?
A: No, it doesn’t need to die. It does need to be reminded that it shouldn’t be using its power to manipulate people. That’s one of the goals of TARTLE, to provide a model of cooperation with users and other companies that shows it is possible to harness the power of data without taking advantage of others.
Q: I tried to integrate my Facebook account but it wouldn’t work. What gives?
A: In short, Facebook is constantly changing its rules and often that means we need to change things on our end. We are still small so it takes time to catch up to a company that literally employs thousands. We are working on it.
Not every question is serious or technical though. Sometimes, they’re just fun.
Q: Is Alex forty feet tall?
A: Nope, a mere 6’5” which is tall but not tall enough to live at the top of a beanstalk.
Q: What is up with the burlap sack?
A: Hey, that was a cashmere sweater in that video. It is completely different than burlap.
Let’s get back to some of the more serious and technical questions.
Q: Do we need to give our data to TARTLE?
A: Well, if you sign up with us, that’s what you are deciding to do. Of course, you decide how many accounts you want to connect with us. How much of your data you entrust to our care is entirely up to you. And again, we don't do anything with it except store and secure it for your own later use. We put all the power to control it into your hands.
Q: How on earth do I use your site?
A: This is one of the joys of being a new company, we have a few growing pains. We acknowledge our initial system was difficult to use. Fortunately, we are getting close to finalizing a redesign that is both inherently easier to use and set up to do a much better job of walking you through the process of signing up and getting started making use of TARTLE.
Q: Are we a scam or spyware?
A: No. We don’t work for anyone else, no company or government agency is pulling our strings. We encourage anyone suspicious of us to research TARTLE and see if you come away still having those suspicions.
Q: What does TARTLE mean?
A: It’s actually a Scottish term. When you are introduced to someone and realize a moment later that you forgot their name and have that awkward pause while trying to remember it – that’s a TARTLE.
Q: We need some return on our loss of privacy.
A: Yes we do. For too long, we’ve been giving up our privacy thanks to all of these companies taking and manipulating our data without our consent and getting rich off it. It is past time that we should both get some privacy back and some money on our end as well.
Q: How can we stop the government from taking our data?
A: To completely stop it is almost impossible. However, you can slow them down. Use a TOR browser, get a VPN, and stop pumping out all your data for all to see on the internet.
Q: Do you use crypto/blockchain?
A: Yes, we use crypto currency for payment, which allows our system to be global and unaffected by whatever happens with fiat currencies. The blockchain also allows us to be transparent with how much and the type of data being traded, while protecting the data itself and its source.
We genuinely appreciate our community. There are a lot of fun and energetic people out there who are either early adopters or people who are curious about our mission. We’ll be doing this again before long. In the meantime, we’d like to leave you with a question –
What’s your data worth?
One of the leading trends on Twitter is Artificial Intelligence (AI). This isn’t surprising given all the buzz these days about anything having to do with machine learning, algorithms, data analysis, etc. But as usual, the trend only scratches the surface. The real question we should be asking is whether or not the fact that AI is getting lots of mentions on social media reflects any genuine understanding of what it is and how best to use it?
At the very least, we can’t be certain that the trends indicate anything quite so positive as actual understanding of the issue. The very fact the term AI is popular helps drive it getting more mentions. Popularity begets popularity. It’s like this with any popular buzzword. A thing is perceived to be important so a lot of people trying to get attention or appear relevant will just start using it without any real understanding. Even if the person throwing around the buzzword understands it, he probably isn’t helping others to do so. There is a hilarious scene in the movie, New in Town that illustrates how silly this can be. The new manager (played by Renee Zellweger) at a food plant is trying to win over the employees by giving them a typical board room presentation, but at the local bar. They literally turn it into a drinking game, taking a drink every time she uses a buzzword (with a double for every one with a D).
Even the actual use of AI tends to be done in a very superficial, cookie-cutter way. Algorithms are sold, bought, and used with little consideration for whether or not they might actually be useful for the client. An algorithm useful for figuring out the best distribution model for Birkenstocks might not be that helpful in determining the best places to market Twinkies (not that anyone should even market Twinkies, you practically need an AI to decipher the ingredients to those tasty little carcinogen bombs). Your AI is only as useful as the algorithms is useful as the data you put into it. Both should be relevant to the kind of answers you’re trying to get.
For example, if you want to know the status of the flow in your natural gas pipelines, then it makes good sense to have a bunch of passive sensors to track flow rate, pressure, and the integrity of the pipe itself. That is all relevant and useful data for what a gas company might like to know. However, if a clothing company is trying to develop a new kind of shirt, whether it is a new cut, or a particular line of graphics on the shirt, then it doesn’t make sense to look only at passive data. Such data can only tell you how a similar product has done in certain areas, which is great if you are tracking past or even current trends. However, if you are planning on launching a new product, you’re taking those trends and trying to project them into the future. To put it another way, you’re guessing. Based on that kind of passive data, there is no way to be sure that the market will even be there for what you are planning on selling. Just think of the attempt to sell men’s capris pants back in the late 1990s. Someone clearly needed more relevant data than they had because those were on the clearance racks in droves in a matter of a month or two.
What if there was a way that you could get active data? Data that’s relevant to you now? That would actually be useful in planning for the future of your company and based on more than guess work? What if you could go right to the source?
That’s what we are offering at TARTLE, a way for a business to reach out to actual and potential customers to determine not what you hope they want, but what they actually want. Through the TARTLE marketplace, you have access to actual people who can tell you what they think about your proposed product before you spend a ton of money manufacturing and marketing it. Armed with that information, you can then make use of your AI to figure out the best manufacturing process and marketing campaign for products that people actually want, saving you time and money in the end.
What’s your data worth?
Antitrust and Amazon
Recently, the European Union filed an antitrust lawsuit against Amazon. The premise is that Amazon’s ubiquity gives it an unfair advantage in selling their own products. Amazon is of course most famously known for selling everyone else’s stuff. Tons of retailers and manufacturers use Amazon as both a storefront and distribution network. You can even get products from Sam’s Club on Amazon. That isn’t the main issue in the lawsuit though. What the EU is alleging is that Amazon’s vast network and data gathering capabilities give it an advantage in that they use all that data to better refine their own products and then market and distribute them. The fear of course is that no one could possibly compete with the way that Amazon operates.
There are a couple problems with this lawsuit. One, Amazon doesn’t actually make that many branded products. It’s a smattering of smart devices like their tablets, streaming sticks, and the Alexa devices. That’s about it. It’s also worth pointing out that despite the marketing and distribution advantages, the Fire Phone was hardly a raging success. In all honesty, this case could be better made against Walmart that has a whole like of products of many kinds that it distributes through its massive network of brick and mortar stores and online shopping.
Finally, this is just Amazon being smart with the data that they can gather. Why wouldn’t you pay attention to what sells, what features are most important, and what price points people buy at when you are designing your own products? It’s as if you were building a house and someone gave you a free blueprint for exactly what you were looking for, but instead you threw it away and figured it out from scratch. See how that doesn’t make any sense?
Amazon’s success isn’t really a matter of forcing competition out but looking at the way things are going and getting there first. In the early days of the internet, they saw the potential in selling small items like books. Suddenly, bibliophiles didn’t need to spend years combing used book stores for a particular work, they could just look it up and order it. And anyone could do it, used bookstores, major publishers, or even just the soccer mom with a few old books to unload.
As capabilities increased, they branched out, streaming music, movies, and of course selling ebooks and their own e-readers, practically speaking the tablet market into existence. And let’s not forget that they developed partnerships with hordes of retailers around the world allowing them to sell nearly anything under sun.
This has actually been the case on the distribution side of Amazon as well. In truth, that is the real secret of Amazon’s success, its ability to get almost anything almost anywhere in the world in just a couple of days. Sometimes, they can even get things delivered in a matter of hours. They realized that people would be willing to wait a little bit if they didn’t have to deal with going to a store, especially if they knew they were getting what they wanted, instead of just hoping to find it. Just like with internet streaming, they gradually increased their capabilities and now Amazon trucks are all over the streets of America, dropping off packages by the millions. Naturally, things haven’t stopped there. Noticing the rise in the gig economy (only natural since they helped bring it about) there is now Amazon Flex, which allows anyone to pick up and deliver packages under the Amazon banner and make a little side money. The next step of course is for Amazon to start using drones to deliver packages. That project has been underway for years already and as soon as they can get FAA approval, you can expect to see Amazon drones buzzing around the skies.
How does all of this relate to TARTLE? Like Amazon, we are a marketplace, with you the individual as the retailer. We see the trends towards accessibility in terms of ownership, the desire for greater personal control of data and the growth of cryptocurrency and are eagerly adopting them. Even better, we want to take you along on journey, to get out ahead of the trend and lead the way into a future where everyone has more direct control over what goes on in their lives.
What’s your data worth?