People keep wondering if Jeff Bezos will be the new Steve Jobs.
He will not. Nobody has Jobs's flair for creating new products that we didn't even know we wanted until he offered them. Nobody designs hardware like Jobs, and we will all suffer for his loss. Even those of us who don't buy many Apple products have benefitted by all the knockoffs created by others, including the iPad-like Kindle Fire.
But Bezos is not about hardware. He's not even primarily about online retailing any more. He's primarily about cloud computing.
Steven Levy at Wired has the best article in the world about Jeff Bezos right now. Anyone who is interested in Bezos and the future of Amazon must read this article. Levy gets behind the facts and analyst speculations and into the heart of the Bezos story.
He points out that Bezos has caught on to the cloud computing paradigm as the future for all computing. Bezos has established the lead position in providing cloud computing services for consumers, and is now doing everything he can to pull further ahead and strengthen that lead.
While Jobs was all about creating the greatest hardware in the world, Bezos's hardware designs, including the Kindle Fire, are merely the delivery devices that will give us access to Amazon's real products: computing, media and other services delivered through the internet. The devices don't even have to be that powerful. The heavy computing is done in the cloud, on Amazon's computers, and delivered to us via that device in our hands, which will largely just need to play back what we've gathered from the Internet.
In many ways, this is a grander vision than even that of Steve Jobs. The future of computing is not so much in the hardware any more -- although it sure was nice to have those great hardware designs that Jobs came up with. The future of computing IS the internet, and Bezos is the one figuring out how bring the internet to our homes as a virtual supercomputer that seems to sit in the palm of our hands.
It's no longer about computers. It's about computing. A decade from now we may not even think of Amazon as an online retailer. Amazon will be the company that revolutionizes the use of the internet as the computing platform of choice. Perhaps more than any other company, Amazon now has the potential to become the world's leading computing company.