By Ed Oswald | Wednesday, June 30, 2010 at 1:38 pm
For some on Tuesday afternoon, visiting Amazon may have been a shock. Its pages were devoid of products, its search functions malfunctioning, its shopping cart unusable. For some unknown reason, one of the web’s largest retailers was out of commission for almost three hours, the longest the site has ever been down for any reason.
The site has yet to specify exactly what happened. But within minutes of the first signs of trouble, thousands across Twitter began reporting that the company’s pages suddenly went blank. For a site that averages some $51,400 in sales and revenue every minute, the downtime could have cost Amazon a stunning $9.2 million dollars.
Amazon is not responding to press’ requests for a better explanation, only calling it a “technical difficulty” that impacted the U.S. version of the site. It’s only the fourth major outage in the 15-year history, with the others happening in 1999, 2006, and 2008.
Are Amazon’s tight lips about the cause of the outage bad for its business? Barron’s Eric Savitz says yes. “It certainly seems odd to me that Amazon has taken what appear to be a defensive and closed-mouth stance on an issue so basic to its customers: the ability to simply use the site,” he argues. “Jeff Bezos, your customers deserve better.”