Clickable Culture   Official Research Blog of Phantom Compass
  Would Amazon.com Be Better in 3D?  
 
 
Posted 2007-02-23 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
John Phillippe, CEO of media development firm Zephyr Salvo, believes that it will soon be "vital" for businesses to establish a presence in the 3D virtual world Second Life, citing virtual storefronts as a feature of "Web 3.0," where companies such as Amazon will operate retail stores.

"Instead of, say, going to Amazon.com's web page," Phillippe writes in a press release, "soon your Avatar will walk into the Amazon.com store and interact with personnel to find what you are looking for, just like you would at the mall."

I don't disagree that virtual storefronts will become more prevalent in Second Life (for example, ThinkGeek.com opens their retail outlet in the virtual world today), but I think Phillippe picked a poor example. Amazon.com is a useful 2D shopping portal because it's quick and easy to find and buy exactly what one is looking for. Amazon.com succeeds because consumers don't need to "interact with personnel" at all. Type a few words into a search box, click, and wait for delivery. Extruding Amazon.com into the third dimension makes shopping a lengthy browsing experience, just like shopping in a real life mall--which is great if you enjoy that sort of thing, but it's no substitute for what 2D e-shopping portals already excel at.
 
     
 
   
 
  ... share via email del.icio.us digg bloglines fark reddit newsvine simpy blogmarks magnolia  
  12 Comments  
 
   
 
Comment posted by purewestdocs
February 23, 2007 @ 10:51 am
     
 
I'm not one to comment much, but comments like Phillippe's infuriate me. Until Web 3.0 can successfully emulate reality perfectly, why the hell would I want to walk through a virtual store and look at bad 3D replicas of books, DVDs and CDs?! I tried going to a virtual Amazon-linked store in SL and I thought it was just about the stupidest waste of time I'd experienced in the metaverse. I've heard the argument about being able to virtually experience cars and shoes and the like, but unless SL gets a major graphical overhaul, I think we're a LONG way away from that. Why spend thirty minutes plus lag time virtua-shopping, when I can jump into a 2D webpage and get what I want in seconds?

[By the way, this blog has been especially fascinating for the last two weeks, Tony- kudos!]
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by csven
February 23, 2007 @ 11:05 am
     
 
First, I agree that Amazon.com isn't an especially good example because it is difficult to get past the fact that they're a successful 2D operation. A better example might have been something I encountered a couple of weeks ago: a shuttered store that used to sell used CD's/DVD's. Like seemingly every other music retail outlet, they couldn't compete with free or cheap downloads. The problem is that they continued to try, oblivious to any other possibilities.

That leads to the second thing here:

Until Web 3.0 can successfully emulate reality perfectly, why the hell would I want to walk through a virtual store and look at bad 3D replicas of books, DVDs and CDs?

I'm not going to answer this because it seems to me the people asking that question are like the owners/operators of that shuttered store. They're also like the anonymous(?) writer of the Valleywag piece talking about sex in Second Life (and his/her attempts at purchasing genitalia) who also - obviously unwittingly - provides the very argument for Second Life that isn't intended.

Until people grok both, I'm not sure it can be explained.

p.s. this isn't about graphics.
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by rikomatic
February 23, 2007 @ 11:06 am
     
 
Actually the other reason that Amazon succeeds is that they have figured ways of getting people who were coming in to buy a CD to leave with a toaster oven and a bathrobe. Much of this is driven by their software which throws suggestions, customer reviews and recommendations at you all over the site.

That I think this perfectly translates into a 3D environment. If I were shopping for a new camera lens, I go to my local camera store because I know there are camera experts there who will tell me what lens will do the job I want to do. If there were a 3D online version of this where I could interact with employees, other customers and experts in a quick and easy fashion, I would totally use it.
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by Mambo Milosz
February 23, 2007 @ 12:04 pm
     
 
Surely two of the reasons that Amazon works so well are that a) it is fully automated and b) it is asynchronous.

Listings, suggestions, and so on, are retrived for the database according to automated procedures. Customer reviews are input by customers and stored for later retrieval by other customers.

The suggestion that I would pop-into a 3D store "and interact with personnel" is absurd economically from Amazon's perspective since this would require them to populate the store with real people; that is it would increase their costs to the same or higher level as running a first life store. It would also torpedo the incredibly powerful and sticky review system since it would render it synchronous. I would get an interactive review from whoever else happened to be there at the same time, which might be nobody.
If the answer is "the responses could be stored in a database and recalled later" then we ARE talking about giving the current site the added benefits of lagginess, instability and user frustration.
Way to go!
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by Tony Walsh
February 23, 2007 @ 12:53 pm
     
 
Thanks for the thoughtful comments, folks. I agree that Amazon's usefulness isn't limited to its ease of search/navigation (I should have said so in my original post).

Rik, I don't think Amazon's recommendation system translates to Second Life at all--on the 2D web this works well as an automated system. On the 3D web, you're suggesting it's more productive to rely on interacting with avatars who happen to be nearby at the time. I don't see the worth of this, except where your camera store example is concerned. Amazon doesn't care what we buy, as long as we're buying. Camera store employees might be more discerning, provided they aren't getting paid commissions. But why wait for a virtual camera store employee when I can call up epinions.com and aggregate reviews?
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by csven
February 23, 2007 @ 2:24 pm
     
 
"The suggestion that I would pop-into a 3D store "and interact with personnel" is absurd economically from Amazon's perspective since this would require them to populate the store with real people; that is it would increase their costs to the same or higher level as running a first life store."

It would? You can think of no options that would eliminate this so-called problem? In our increasingly reputation-based, crowd sourced,open source, Threadless-model, Mechanical Turk world, is it reasonable to believe that people aren't creative enough to resolve or overcome this barrier?

It would also torpedo the incredibly powerful and sticky review system since it would render it synchronous.

Is it not possible to have both asynchronous and synchronous at the same time? Do you still use a television, now that you have a computer and an internet connection? Do you listen to pre-recorded music composed by other people when you now have the tools to create your own... or to collaboratively create it? Is there absolutely no way to leverage the review archive of that system?

I would get an interactive review from whoever else happened to be there at the same time, which might be nobody.

You would or you might? And would that erase all the other reviews? If so, why? And are those other reviews by somebody? How do you discern the nobody's from the somebody's? Does having a 3D graphical representation diminish reputation?

If the answer is "the responses could be stored in a database and recalled later" then we ARE talking about giving the current site the added benefits of lagginess, instability and user frustration.

Don't people make trade-offs of this sort everyday? Wasn't "www" jokingly refered to as "world-wide wait" just a few years ago? Weren't people making trade-offs of a similar nature? And has that stopped the growth of the internet or diminished its use?

I recall when owning home computers was considered absurd. Funny how things evolve.
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by Adrian Crook
February 23, 2007 @ 5:19 pm
     
 
"Instead of, say, going to Amazon.com's web page," Phillippe writes in a press release, "soon your Avatar will walk into the Amazon.com store and interact with personnel to find what you are looking for, just like you would at the mall."

Um, yeah. I'm with you, Tony. It's ridiculous to think that it will somehow be EASIER to get your avatar to wander around some clunky, 8fps virtual shopping mall than it is to 1-Click order off Amazon.com.

I remember years ago a friend and I would joke that eventually CD players would "evolve" to the point were you'd strap on VR goggles and watch as song titles flew by you in 3D space and when you wanted to play one, you'd have to grab it out of the air with both hands and put it in a 3D playing machine.

Now that would be WAY easier than listening to music these days, wouldn't it?
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by Prokofy Neva
February 23, 2007 @ 6:03 pm
     
 
I missed the memo on why things like Phillippe is talking about are called "Web 3.0" and not "Web 2.0". I mean, I know that Walker calls it "3pointD" and all, but isn't Web 2.0 social software inclusive of Second Life, and not quite here yet? Isn't that why it's called "2.0" to put it off to the bright future after beta and testing and bug removal?

Philip Rosedale always talks about SL and Amazon not in the way of getting help from some avatar personnel who help you shop or check you out (that's the whole point of a webpage, duh) but in terms of socializing with the other browsers.

I'm not sure I'd want to socialize with other browsers just taken raw off the Internet, even if we are all looking at the same book.

However, I think where the amazon.com thing could connect well with SL is in creating book clubs, spaces for people to meet, and in recreating 3-D scenes. If they make books come alive by building them out as 3-d animated scripted scenes, they are more attractive and fun. And if they make a way for people to animate their lists of preferences or wish lists or something in ways that are multiplied by the presence of SL, that's great.

It would be neat if people could make their own bookstores in a sense by being able to grab a bunch of links off amazon.com and putting them in textures and prims with their reviews and with their events to discuss the books or link them to others. People would be motivated to make their little niche bookstores/book clubs if some little micropayment dropped down in their SL account to feed their time online hustling the books.

Many people turn their blogs into such mini bookstores and putting it in 3-D where you have the sense of "playing store" very vividly, it could work.
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by bllius
February 23, 2007 @ 11:01 pm
     
 
SL - community driven real-time interaction in 3D environment
Amazon - 2D web-based shopping aggregator with cheap overhead, massive inventory, and asynchronous community driven reviews

Whoever combines the best of both and discards the chaff will blow past Amazon (who I think is as likely to innovate in a 3D space as Microsoft did when the net exploded).
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by Torley
February 25, 2007 @ 12:46 am
     
 
I've been thinking of something awfully compelling: bringing flat books to life. When I was a kid, I really enjoyed popup books, and haven't yet seen one done well in Second Life. I'd sure like to. It would also be a thrill to have authors like Judy Blume, Shel Silverstein, and Maurice Sendak make appearances, and walk through their works. While a WILD THINGS WORLD might be a little over-the-top, there's a lot in the way of visual memorability and youth's reading which could be uplifted more in Second Life.
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by Ace Albion
February 27, 2007 @ 8:35 am
     
 
"If I were shopping for a new camera lens, I go to my local camera store because I know there are camera experts there who will tell me what lens will do the job I want to do. If there were a 3D online version of this where I could interact with employees, other customers and experts in a quick and easy fashion, I would totally use it."

It's funny. I have been (and am) shopping for camera lenses. I want a fast prime for my EOS 400D/Rebel XTi right now, and the local stores don't stock them, or the sales guys look like they want to make me buy something with the letter "L" or a red line round the edge whether I need it or not. The internet, however, particularly a couple of forums with a lot of good quality posters on them, has given me so much information that my only real struggle now is thinking harder about what *exactly* I'm going to use the lens for and what I want to pay. I can also go to one pbase user's site and see a whole bunch of comparison shots taken side by side with the different lenses. I don't feel pressured or sold-to, I feel well informed and just angsting over the actual spending now.

Now, if we're imagining a way I can ask these knowledgeable peers to come with me and browse some holo-vendors rezzing up detailed Sigma/Canon/Whatever lenses with specs and prices, and them virtually stood by me talking me through the pros and cons, then that gets my vote.

I mean I know someone will say you should go through every item they have in the store room finding the one thats just randomly better than the others but 3d VR isn't going to solve that- clicking the actual solid, real lens to your camera and testing it does that.
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by volkov
March 6, 2007 @ 7:55 am
     
 
I think it's really possible to combine SL and Amazon. But most difficult thing for 3d internet growing is not a bad graphics, it's a proprietary standarts in SL. Only open-standarts can give enough potential for this.
 
     
 
     
   
 
 
     
 
     
[ Detailed Search ]
Clickable Conversation
5224 comments
on 4159 entries

Dinozoiks wrote:
Wow! Thanks for that Tony. Just posted a bunch of other tips here... http://www.dino.co.uk/labs/2008/45-tips-when-designing-online-content-for-kids/ Hope it helps someone... Dino...
in Dino Burbidge's '10 Things To Remember When Designing For Kids Online'


yes, many of the free little games are crappy. but as an artist who has recently published free content on the itunes app store,…
in Free iPhone Games Are Awful: Strategy?


I vote for popup radial menus. Highlight a bit of text, the push and hold, Sims-style radial menu pops up with Copy, Paste, etc....
in More iPhone Gestures, Please


Hey Tony! A client of mine is looking to hire an internal Flash game dev team to build at a really cool Flash CCG…
in Dipping Into Toronto's Flash Pool


Yeah, there's a lot of weird common sense things I've noticed they've just omitted from the design. No idea why though....
in More iPhone Gestures, Please


It also bears noting there's no mechanism right now for a developer to offer a free trial for the iPhone; the App Store isn't…
in Free iPhone Games Are Awful: Strategy?


@GeorgeR: It's on my shopping list :) I've heard good things about it as well. And Cro Mag Rally. @andrhia: meh, I don't know…
in Free iPhone Games Are Awful: Strategy?


...you get what you pay for, you know? I actually bought Trism based on early buzz, and it's truly a novel mechanic. I've been…
in Free iPhone Games Are Awful: Strategy?


The only one I've heard good things about is Super Monkey Ball. Have you given that a whirl yet?...
in Free iPhone Games Are Awful: Strategy?


Advance warning: this frivolent comment is NOT RELATED or even worth your time ... But whenever i hear "Collada", i think of that SCTV…
in Electric Sheep Builds Its Own Flock


Clickable Culture Feeds:

RSS 2.0 ATOM 1.0 ALL

Accessibility:

TEXT

Clickable Culture
Copyright (c)1999-2007 in whole or in part Tony Walsh.

Trademarks and copyrights on this page are owned by their respective owners. Comments owned by the Poster. Shop as usual, and avoid panic buying.