Wrinkly pricing

Today amazon.com announced that it had switched from Google to Microsoft as the provider of search engine technology for its own A9 search engine. I hadn’t thought much about A9 so I thought I’d check it out.

Well I had always known that A9 allowed searches inside books. But this also allows classified searches in many places including reference sources, Wikipedia, blogs and of course the web in general. All that is fine but nothing special.

What was interesting was the deal: sign up to A9 and you receive 1.57% off pretty much everything at amazon.com. The idea for the discount is to get you searching tehre and presumably to sell targetted products. But why the 1.57%?

Well, it turns out that 1.57% is just rounding and what they would like to give you is 1.57142857142857142857 … % or (22/14)% discounts; that is, pi/2. So amazon.com are saying, “search with us and get just less than pi/2% off all products.” Actually, they don’t say that you get just less so there curent offer is somewhat misleading. But hey if you trying to get “wrinkly” about pricing then at least you should be mathematically accurate!

All this reminds me of primary school when we had to draw maps of Australia. The teachers were always saying “make the coast wrinkly.” The idea is that our maps would be more realistic. In the end, there were alot more bays, harbours, inlets and fjords than really was the case.

Amazon.com are going for “wrinkly” pricing against all convention and all ability for mental computation. But I guess they will end up attracting the seriously price conscious customers that way.

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