After launching Amazon's (Fortune 500) first tablet with a fair amount of style at the end of 2011, many began drawing comparisons between Bezos and Jobs, the most singular figure in technology. ,
Of course, the comparisons were not completely unwarranted, as Apple (Fortune 500) and Amazon are part of a small group of companies that believe they can put the wants of customers first and still be successful. And they both also shared a penchant for big ideas. ,
But as evidenced by Sunday's Prime Air annoucement, Amazon's big ideas are nowhere near similar to Apple's.
Jobs' big ideas directly revolved around products: Beautiful, futuristic devices that customers interact with, inspiring awe and wonder.
Bezos' innovations take place behind the scenes. Once a computer scientist who worked on Wall Street, Bezos reportedly started Amazon in part because he noticed a law that exempted all online purchases from being taxed. He focuses on ways to improve the efficiency and infrastructure of his company, leading to orders that arrive faster, services that run smoother, and products that cost less. They're ultimately innovations that make people's lives easier, but they never touch or see them.
What started with Amazon's online marketplace expanded into offerings such as the Amazon Prime suite of services, the EC2 cloud farm, and the entire Kindle ecosystem. Now Amazon is even experimenting with the production of its own television shows and the delivery of groceries.
Jobs was hellbent on creating the best hardware at any cost and using digital content to enhance its appeal, such as the iPod and the iTunes store. Most of the time, Bezos has exhibited the exact opposite vision; Amazon has built low-cost, utilitarian devices that have the sole purpose of delivering Amazon content to the end user.
But Bezos has lately even shown competence on the product side, slowly transforming the Kindle e-reader into the best device available, as evidenced by the nearly perfect Kindle Paperwhite.
It is entirely possible that PrimeAir will fail or disappear before we ever see it. But very few CEOs would ever even bother to attempt it. And there's a reason why everyone got so excited by what was essentially a preview of an announcement: If any CEO has the vision and resources to make an idea this audacious into a successful reality, it's Bezos.
Bezos is not going to be the man to show us the shiniest and most beautiful products of the future. But even without PrimeAir, Bezos is slowly finding his own way to get the world excited about the possibilities of technology. In that, he is unique, and we shouldn't compare him to anyone but himself.
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