Amazon's War on Statsaholic

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Daily Crunch: Hot Pursuit Edition

Statsaholic (formerly Alexaholic) launched a year ago and provided much easier access to Alexa traffic data than the Alexa site itself. Statsaholic also had other features Alexa didn’t offer, like embeddable graphs and data smoothing. Others agreed, and soon started linking to Statsaholic instead of Alexa when doing traffic comparisons. At one point, Alexa was the no. 3 search result on Google for “Alexa.”

Statsaholic was not using the Alexa web service to get the data, because Alexa doesn’t offer the graph data via their web service. Amazon, which owns Alexa, could have complained or simply shut them down when it launched, but they didn’t. They actually complimented the service in a post on the Alexa blog last April.

But somewhere along the line Amazon decided they didn’t like Statsaholic and got their lawyers involved. They filed a domain name dispute earlier this year to get ownership over the Alexaholic domain name. Ron Hornbaker, the owner of the service, stopped using the alexaholic domain name and moved the service over to Statsaholic.com while the dispute was ongoing.

That didn’t appease Amazon, which then took the step of blocking Statsaholic from accessing Alexa graphs, although they left other sites doing the same thing intact. Statsaholic started getting data in other ways, and eventually Amazon just turned off all ability to hot link to their graphs from any outside site.

Meanwhile, Amazon implemented many of the Statsaholic features and pushed the graphing function to the home page of the Alexa site.

The Statsaholic side of the story is here. I’ve been playing phone tag with Amazon PR to talk about this for over a week but have been unable to do anything other than swap emails and voicemails to try to schedule a time to talk. In their defense, they say they tried to work with Statsaholic, even going so far as to “explored an acquisition” before shutting them down.

What bothers me about the situation is that Amazon sat on it for a year, complimenting the service along the way (and copying it). Then, just when the service started getting really popular, they took drastic measures to shut it down.

I’ll continue to try to talk to Amazon about the situation, and there very well could be additional facts that put this in a different light. But for now we are left without a service that many of us used regularly for research, and Amazon looks like a bit of a bully.

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