Amazon.bomb!

We're sorry! It's IT Blogwatch: in which Amazon's Web site dies a nasty, lingering death, losing the company loads of money (or perhaps only a little). Not to mention the perfect career for a writer...

Linda Rosencrance says Amazon.com is dead:

The Web site of Amazon.com Inc. was shut down for at least two hours [Friday] and was slowing coming back online, the online retailer said. An Amazon spokesman said the site went down at 10:25 a.m. Pacific time ... The company said it was currently investigating an ... [and] engineers were actively working to resolve the issue ... Earlier in the day, attempts to log onto Amazon.com were initially met with this error message: "We're sorry! An error occurred when we tried to process your request ..." During that time, the home page appeared to be available using Amazon's secure Web site, but the links on that page weren't working. more

Brad Stone gathers no moss:

An Amazon spokesperson said this afternoon, “Amazon’s systems are very complex and on rare occasions, despite our best efforts they may experience problems. We work to minimize any disruption and to get the site back as quickly as possible.” The spokesman said that Amazon’s international sites and Web services such as S3, which many Web sites use for back-end functions like serving up large amounts of data, were not affected. Outages among major Web companies like this are rare nowadays. Back in 1999, eBay went down for 22 hours, costing it millions in revenue. more

Catherine Holahan has a similar thought:

This isn’t the first time Amazon has had an outage. The site went down Feb 15, taking out thousands of Websites that use its hosting, data storage, and cloud computing services. Microblogging service Twitter was apparently one of those affected ... Site outages are always terrible for any Web company, but a shut down before a gift-giving holiday amidst graduation is pretty bad news for an eCommerce company. Think of all the graduation gifts and early father’s day merchandise that could not be purchased while the site was down. Or, worse, all of the transactions that were nearly completed when the site shut off. The folks at AdAge estimate the company lost at least $1.8 million from the outage, based on predictions of how much Amazon will make this year. I think it could be higher since there is a reason to shop this weekend. more

But Henry Blodget laughs in the face of AdAge:

How much revenue did Amazon really "lose" during this outage? Most likely only a small fraction of this. Why? Because when customers who wanted to buy something from Amazon went to the site and found it down, the majority of them likely figured the glitch was temporary and decided to check back later this afternoon. And lo and behold--it was temporary. So they're probably placing their orders right now. Amazon does not win business by having the "lowest prices on the web," so folks who are obsessed with having the "lowest prices on the web" wouldn't have bought from Amazon anyway. Did Amazon lose some revenue in the 90 minues the site was down? Definitely. Did it lose "90 minutes-worth". No. What they did lose: About half a billion dollars in market cap. more

C. Max Magee agrees:

In reality, the likely damage is probably minimal. It would take repeated outages for Amazon to start feeling the impact from downtime ... These days, we're used to 100% uptime from the internet's supersites - Google, Yahoo, Wikipedia, et al - but the Amazon outage reminded me of the late 1990s when even the biggest dot-coms, struggling to scale to the explosive growth of the Web, suffered routine and sometimes prolonged outages. more

Michael Arrington runs with that ball:

The Amazon outage, first noticed by Twitter users at as early as 10:24 am PST this morning (I’d link to Twitter except that it’s down), has gone on for an hour now. It’s not necessarily news when a startup has minor downtime, but Amazon loses big revenue for every minute they aren’t out there selling. My PR contacts there aren’t answering the phone, and a message to the main PR number hasn’t yet been returned. At least their web services appear to be humming. more

John Scalzi waxes scatalogical:

Holy C**p, Amazon is Down ... How will I be able to value myself without my Amazon rankings? Amazon’s not supposed to go down, you know? If Amazon can go down, so can Google. And then, of course, it’s back to anarchy. It’s stuff like this that does remind you that, hey, there is still some value in an occasional hard copy or two. more

Ben Worthen chalks up the frickin' odds:

Here are some possibilities [we came] up with and — in honor of tomorrow’s Belmont Stakes — our carefully-calculated odds that it’s what caused the problem.

* An explosion, fire or some other mishap at one of Amazon’s data centers: 5 to 1

* A faulty software upgrade: 7 to 1

* A so-called denial-of-service attack that tries to overwhelm the site with traffic: 10 to 1

* The site was broken into the by same guys who “RoXed Comcast”: 100 to 1

* A rush on Amazon’s Kindle e-book reader: 1,000 to 1

* Sharks with laser beams on their heads: 1,000,000 to 1. more

And finally...

Buffer overflow:

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Richi Jennings is an independent analyst/adviser/consultant, specializing in blogging, email, and spam. A 21 year, cross-functional IT veteran, he is also an analyst at Ferris Research. You can follow him on Twitter, pretend to be Richi's friend on Facebook, or just use boring old email: blogwatch@richi.co.uk.

Previously in IT Blogwatch:

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