Who Spewed It: Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos Edition

Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, famously mysterious about some matters, is also known for spouting some fabulous, and fabulously confusing, quotes … Can you work out which ones are his?

Jeff Bezos

Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos is many things: Successful, certainly, and enigmatic for sure. He’s also responsible for some fabulous sound-bite-like quotes. (And he’s not the only one on Amazon’s executive team who can be a little over-enthusiastic: Amazon’s Steve Kassel
has been telling the media that by next year, “we will sell more Kindle books than paperback books.”)


Do you know Bezos well enough to work out which of these quotes are his and which are from another CEO?

On e-reader technology:

  1. “Rapid screen updates required for animation create eyestrain.”
  2. “E-readers will outsell iPads. It’s got a backlit screen, and it’s too expensive to give one to everyone in your house.”

Amusingly, Jeff’s quote is the first one–and it reveals he’s not looked into the science of the matter much. Quote two is by E-ink’s CEO, Russ Wilcox. His business may be bound to Amazon’s success, but maybe he should read the iPad sales figures?


On advertising:

  1. “The next big wave in advertising is the mobile internet.”
  2. “We don’t make money when we sell things; we make money when we help people make purchase decisions.”

No prizes here: Bezos’ is behind the second quote, made when defending the unusual choice to let negative reviews stay on Google’s Eric Schmidt is responsible for the first one, and it highlights how differently both companies treat (and exploit) advertising.

On the future of publishing:

  1. “There’s a dispute in the [news] industry about subscriptions versus advertising. We want to enable both, and let users choose.”
  2. “Advertising is the price you pay for having an unremarkable product or service.”

The first quote is Google’s Eric Schmidt again, talking about how publishing’s earning mechanisms may change in the digital future. The odd attitude to promotion in quote two is Bezos himself, who evidently intends to let the Kindle promote itself.

On the future of interactive books:

  1. “You are not going to improve Hemingway by adding video snippets.”
  2. “It doesn’t matter how good or bad the product is, the fact is that people don’t read anymore.”
  3. “Print is dead.”

Quote one is Bezos–speaking to the Wall Street Journal about the future of interactive books, and presumably as a slight against the kind of amazing interactive books and magazines that are slowly turning up on the iPad. To say nothing of the bright future of interactive infographics in newspapers. Quote two is Steve Jobs himself, on the future of books of all sorts, before Apple launched iBooks. Quote three? Egon from Ghostbusters. We couldn’t resist.


On tablet PCs:

  1. “The question has arisen lately, is there room for a third category of device, something between a laptop and a phone?”
  2. “There are going to be 100 companies making LCD [screen] tablets, why would we want to be 101?”

Quote one is Steve Jobs again, banging on about his fabulous new category product. The second quote is Bezos, banging on about the army of tablet clones that’ll chase down the iPad, and calmly ignoring the army of e-reader clones that’re chasing down the Kindle.

How did you do? Bezos is surprisingly hard to pick out sometimes, even when he does spout phrases that seem a little tangential to real life. Perhaps he needs to borrow some of Steve Jobs’ “Reality Distortion Field.”


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About the author

I'm covering the science/tech/generally-exciting-and-innovative beat for Fast Company. Follow me on Twitter, or Google+ and you'll hear tons of interesting stuff, I promise. I've also got a PhD, and worked in such roles as professional scientist and theater technician...thankfully avoiding jobs like bodyguard and chicken shed-cleaner (bonus points if you get that reference!)


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