Matthew Waterman
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Matthew Waterman in Brand Power,

An Interesting Observation About Amazon Cloud Services

Pi in the sky. 

So here's something curious I discovered while playing around with one of the toys we got from Amazon (AMZN). For all of the complaining I do about their financial situation, I do think a lot of the things they sell there are neat. In the video is their house brand of digital assistant. It's able to respond to the name "Alexa" and connects wirelessly to the Amazon cloud. You can ask it various questions, have it play music via Amazon prime, read books to you, and it also can be hooked up via bluetooth to control the appliances in your home. Unfortunately the bluetooth doesn't recognize my Sony (SNE) Playstation 4 yet, but maybe someday they'll talk to each other.

Anyway, watch this video I took for a moment. I have more to say about it underneath.  

So that was pretty cool but mostly pointless, right?

Of course, I was playing around here, I have no use for calculating Pi like that, but the numbers were not what I thought was interesting. It's that last night, I asked it "What are the first five thousand digits of Pi?", and it recited all of them. Today I can't get it to go above 101. Alexa just responds that it can't understand my question. 

It could be a total coincidence, but to me it looks as if the search software was updated from my pulling such a long response. I'm betting it's because Amazon realizes that storage space and bandwidth cost money, and they don't want to give me unlimited amounts of it. Another possibility is that this exact answer is stored at some site that Alexa parses, like Wikipedia. When asked, rather than actually calculating the number it could have been just passing along the numbers that someone else already figured out, but somehow can't find today. 

The world may never know the truth, but if it's the first scenario, perhaps there are limits to Amazon's growth after all. 

Congrats to Amazon for clawing back all of that market cap they lost earlier in the year. Best of luck holding through Christmas. I would probably not.