Amazon Pulls a Digital River + FaceBook

Tax-time is soon upon us, and for millions of Americans that means buying TurboTax again.  Fastest way to get it? Download from Intuit. Cheapest way to get it?  Buy at Costco. 

Not anymore. This year the fastest AND cheapest way is to download it from Amazon. Yes, Amazon entered the software download business, although initially the only available products are the different TurboTax flavors.


The traditional, box-sale page points to the download version, claiming you will “save time and money by downloading” software.  Well, not quite. The downloadable version of each product is priced to match the boxed product+shipping charges. This is a missed opportunity, there are obvious savings from not having to manufacture, ship and store a tangible product, so they could afford to create financial incentives to move more customers to the download option.  (Note: “they” means both Amazon and TurboTax maker Intuit, which also offers the box and download at identical prices.)

There’s one thing I really, really don’t like about this new Amazon service:  before you can purchase anything, you need to download and install the “Amazon Downloader”, which in turn will download and install the actual product. Now,  I don’t know about you, but I certainly am not buying software frequently enough to justify the need for a client, whatever benefits(?) this approach may offer. And of course once you install software, you know you’re in for a lifetime of endless updates…smile_baringteeth

If you ever need to download your purchased software again, it’s available under a new section called “Your Media Library.”  As Mashable’s Adam Hirsch discovered, this is a lot more than just a listing of your digital purchases: you can list all purchases from Amazon and other sources, adding your items by simply scanning their barcode through your webcam, Amazon will convert and import the information automatically . There are a number of ways to share all this with friends, start discussions, tag items, subscribe to your friends’ collections via RSS, and follow what’s hot at any time.

If you think this is all similar to FaceBook’s Beacon, that’s because it is. With a significant difference: Amazon’s version is entirely opt-in. 


Related posts: Download Squad, Mashable, Windows Connected, Web Worker Daily.


The Shareware Awards Scam

This is just hilarious: Andy Brice, a UK-based software developer started to get suspicious about the high number of awards displayed on software download sites, so he created a little experiment.

He created a new “product”: a text file with the words ” this program does nothing at all ” repeated a few times and then renamed as an .exe. He even declared the same on the screenprint submitted to shareware sites. That was not enough to prevent several sites from awarding him with “5 stars”. Apparently these awards are handed out left and right, hoping that subitters would display the badges with a backlink to the originating site. Andy’s conclusion:

The truth is that many download sites are just electronic dung heaps, using fake awards, dubious SEO and content misappropriated from PAD files in a pathetic attempt to make a few dollars from Google Adwords.

Here’s the collection of awards awardmestars.exe “earned” so far:

16 and counting. Well, perhaps it stops now, that Andy “outed” himself. Or who knows, given the attention level site owners demonstrated, they hardly read blogs.

Next time you download unknown shareware, you may want to think of just how safe it could be – apparently ratings mean nothing.

Additional reading: Google Blogoscoped, JD on EP , Christopher Null , Things That, Global Nerdy.