You win some, you lose some: Amazon head Jeff Bezos picked up another "Man of the Year" kudo earlier this week, even while calls grew louder for a Netwide boycott of Earth's largest bookseller.
If e-commerce has been the engine of this year's economic boom, Bezos has been the hood ornament; the most visible of our online shopkeepers (come on, name another) was found Monday morning stylin' on the cover of Time. That's two of-the-year awards this month for the Amazon chief; even Bill Gates had to settle in 1999 for "best mannered person" from the National League of Junior Cotillions. Time editor Walter Isaacson noted that this year's choice, embodying both dot-commerce and that newfangled Internet thing, was "easier than most."
However, what was easy for Time (home of the famously failed pathfinder.com site) proved hard to take for many online folk, as volume increased on a proposed boycott of amazon.com for perceived anti-Net behavior. Most of the controversy stems from the bookseller's acquisition of patent #5,960,411, which covers Amazon's "1-Click" online shopping technology.
Though at the moment Amazon is only using the patent to prevent hated rival Barnes & Noble from deploying its own "Express Lane" single-click checkout, Net experts feel that holding a patent on such an obvious (and easily developed) technology doesn't bode well for the Net as a whole, showcasing not only Amazon's lack of commitment to developing the online landscape beyond its own warehouses but the Net-ineptitude of the US Patent Office. Online guru Dave Winer noted, "This is a good time for customer power to kick in and correct a bad mistake."