Amazon Takes Aim at Web Rivals, Big Box Retailers With Prime Day

NEWS ANALYSIS: There’s no question that Amazon plans to sell products of all kinds on Prime Day, but when you see the hefty discounts and the fleet of Prime Air cargo planes lined up, you know there’s more to it.

Amazon Prime Air Service

In a hangar somewhere in the U.S. sits a Boeing 767-300 air cargo plane with the words Prime Air emblazoned on the side and the Amazon smile on its tail.

This aircraft is one of a fleet of some 40 cargo aircraft that Amazon has leased from Atlas Air and ATSG to help the Web commerce giant deliver packages to Amazon Prime members. This move will help the retail giant cut delivery costs, but it will also serve to deliver something perhaps more important—dominance.

Amazon is at a critical point in its growth and in its competition with other merchants, both online and physical. The company needs to nail down its dominant position in some specific areas before competitors can get up to speed. Most of all it can't allow brick and mortar competitors, notably Walmart from making an online comeback.

But there are more companies than just Walmart in Amazon’s sights. This is why struggling Sears has suddenly announced a new round of door-buster specials, complete with free shipping. J.C, Penny is doing the same. For that matter so is another vulnerable merchant with a growing ecommerce business, Costco. All of them have announced sales that coincide with Amazon’s Prime Day, which kicks off at 9 p.m. EDT.

The quest for dominance appears in other areas as well. Amazon’s Echo devices, which include its Alexa virtual assistant, are by far the top selling voice control devices on the market today. But Google has released its Google Home, which operates much like Amazon’s Echo devices and now Apple has announced that it will release its HomePod, which include will the Siri virtual assistant.

Right now, Amazon has the opportunity to position the Echo as a de facto standard, and essentially shut the door of opportunity on Apple, Samsung and the other companies who are reportedly working on virtual home assistants. In Amazon’s case, the result is becoming apparent as Amazon gathers an array of apps, called "Skills" for Alexa and builds an ecosystem of apps, hardware and devices.

Amazon’s capabilities for those devices already exceed anything that Google can do with its Home device. We don’t know what the Apple HomePod full capabilities will be, but there no doubt that Apple’s engineers are watching Amazon’s efforts closely knowing that they have to provide something reasonably equivalent if the HomePod is going to be at all relevant.

One advantage that Apple has with its HomePod is that Apple has a platform that may be able to network with its iOS devices, meaning that you can expect some sort of interoperability between iPhones, iPads and the HomePod.

Wayne Rash

Wayne Rash

Wayne Rash is a freelance writer and editor with a 35 year history covering technology. He’s a frequent speaker on business, technology issues and enterprise computing. He covers Washington and...