The topic was personalization, but the packed audience attending the keynote speech at PC Expo today was more interested in asking Jeff Bezos, Amazon.com's president and CEO, about the profitability of the online bookseller.
"No company cares more about profitability than Amazon.com," Bezos said when asked if the company had enough cash to make it through the year. Bezos also said Amazon will continue to invest in building out its operations.
Bezos was a good sport about the ribbing and name-calling the company has received since being deemed unprofitable. He cited names such as Amazon.toast, Amazon.bomb, and, his favorite, Amazon.org, "because it must be a not-for-profit company."
Bezos did discuss and demonstrate Amazon.com's latest personalization features, including its Network Of Trusted Friends. This consists of a list of other Amazon customers who can be entered by the user and with whom information on recent purchases, wish lists, and review comments can be shared.
Bezos took the audience on a tour of his personalized Amazon entry page, which includes a list of books, music, electronics, and toys the database has recommended for him. Based on what he called collaborative filtering software, the recommendations are generated by the statistical aggregation of customer data--matching the user's past purchases with the past purchases of others, then determining what they have bought that the user has not.
Moving deeper into the site, Bezos proceeded to his Network of Trusted Friends tab and displayed a list of what his friends had bought from Amazon. He even did a tabulation among his friends for the most popular purchase. Comments were posted by those in his network about the various books they had bought or wanted to buy.