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Amazon Takes a Long Lunch Hour

Amazon briefly debuted a new home page design earlier today. The Seattle-based Web retailer replaced its usual rich array of text and graphics with a white background and a single line of text that was almost profound in its elemental simplicity:

Http/1.1 Service Unavailable

I kid, of course. The renowned online store suffered an unusual outage that took it offline for about an hour and a half. It has yet to offer an explanation. When I called its New York-based public-relations firm, DBA PR, a receptionist said nobody was available. I'm waiting for a call back after leaving a voicemail message at the company's PR hotline.

This glitch, or outage, or whatever it was, probably won't cost Amazon any serious money, in relative terms. Although's report estimated that Amazon loses $31,000 for every minute it's unavailable, a 90-minute outage would add up to "merely" $2,790,000. Heck, if you factor in the productivity boost gained when workers can't waste their day shopping online, this could be a net plus to the economy as a whole!

By Rob Pegoraro  |  June 6, 2008; 3:55 PM ET
Categories:  The Web  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: What's Up Apple's Sleeve?
Next: When Tech News Breaks, Will Twitter Do the Same?


31 000 times 90 equals 2 790 000, not 279 000. Is multiplication really that hard? ;)

Posted by: Sofia | June 6, 2008 4:44 PM | Report abuse

No, but catching a typo can be :) Fixed now...

- RP

Posted by: Rob Pegoraro | June 6, 2008 5:11 PM | Report abuse

And how much of that money is recouped in the following hours anyway? I assume the figure is based on average revenues/hour, but doesn't account for time shifting of purchases.

Posted by: ah | June 6, 2008 5:23 PM | Report abuse

The interesting fact, to me anyway, is that while the site was down to HTTP traffic, HTTPS was working fine.

Posted by: Bart | June 6, 2008 5:31 PM | Report abuse

Do you have the statistic for how many people are involved in those 31K a minute? Like, it would be interesting to know between how many shoppers you can divide that amount in just one minute.

Posted by: Mike | June 6, 2008 5:48 PM | Report abuse

Nice to know someone else ran into this as well.

Interestingly enough, Amazon UK was running just fine...

Posted by: SportzNut21 | June 6, 2008 10:59 PM | Report abuse

What about Silicon India Rob?

Of course I get more e-mail from Amazon, but I don't worry about Amazon.

Posted by: brucerealtor | June 7, 2008 5:23 AM | Report abuse

When a site goes down the biggest damage is done to the reputation of the site. The author and commentors are focusing on the monetary damage.

Visitors often just don't return to a site that is poorly managed.

If ebay ever dropped this paypal madness they might have picked up a lot of customers from this outage.

Kind Regards,
Dave Faulkmore

Posted by: The issue is visitor perception | June 8, 2008 11:02 PM | Report abuse

Yesterday for several hours I couldn't use IMDB, an Amazon subsidiary. SF Bay Area. Did anyone else experience this? If so was it related to the mother ship's problems?

Posted by: kfritz | June 9, 2008 1:14 AM | Report abuse

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