Amazon: power – and responsibility

This morning’s Observer column.

When Jeff Bezos founded Amazon, his single strategic goal was to “get big quick”. His hunch was that, in online retailing, size and scale would be the ultimate determinants of success. And his vision was never limited to books – they were the obvious starting point, because they are goods that people could buy without having to handle them. But Bezos had much more ambitious plans. He wanted to sell everything that could be sold online. He saw Amazon as potentially the Wal-Mart of the web.

Last week we saw two very different illustrations of how close he has come to achieving his goal…