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CNet has a piece about how the Amazon Go store in Seattle - designed to allow people to shop without having to go through a checkout lane - has been going a lot slower than many expected. Originally slated to open in "early 2017" in most of the press materials as well as in the video announcing the concept (that you can see at left), Amazon Go remains generally off-limits to anyone who is not an Amazon employee or extremely well-connected. Which means that now that we're in July, Amazon has passed the point at which "early 2017" is a possibility.

CNet writes that "the delay, reportedly caused by glitches at the store, represents a rare and embarrassing misstep for a high-profile project from Amazon, which this year has been riding high on its soaring stock price and blockbuster $13.7 billion deal to buy Whole Foods. The situation also raises questions over when, or if, Amazon Go's technology will be ready for public use, throwing cold water on many consumers' hopes that they can someday purchase stuff at stores without having to stop at checkout."

And, the story goes on: "The delay may also offer a moment of relief for retailer workers, who've seen stores close at a record pace this year and who may fear Amazon Go's technology will make many of their jobs obsolete. For its part, Amazon has said its test store employs just as many workers as a regular convenience store, but it's able to reassign people to different tasks."

KC's View:
Let's stipulate, for the sake of this discussion, that it has taken Amazon Go longer to get going than expected, and that the problems seem to be centered on technology issues.

First of all, this was always going to be a tough nut to crack. Amazon took a risk by being so public about it. But if, as some say, the problem is that the technology gets confused when there are too many people in the store, that's a good problem to have. In fact, I'd venture to suggest that if they wanted to open it to the public but put a restriction on how many could be inside at any given time, they'd have a line going round the block - it'd become a major Seattle attraction overnight.

To be honest, I don't think Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos thinks of this as "a rare and embarrassing misstep." This is, after all, a guy who once said that "if you know something is going to work, then it isn't an experiment." I think Bezos, more than anything else, seems pretty fearless about this stuff. He has a sense of the moment, of what consumers will respond to, and he's willing to take his swings, knowing that some things won't work, but that his batting average is going to be pretty good.

I still think that Amazon Go is going to work. I think that every day that it remains closed to the public is a day when they learn a lot from the experiment. And I think that none of this will dissuade a fearless Bezos from taking another swing, another time, at an idea that seems impractical but has the potential to change the world.