Lady Gaga's 'Born This Way' overwhelms Amazon

Online store not prepared for the onrush of demand for popular singer's new album

Amazon.com came up with a good marketing idea in its battle against Apple's iTunes, but it worked almost too well as execs vastly underestimated the sheer might of Lady Gaga fans.

In an attempt to drive interest to its new Cloud Drive digital music storage service, Amazon Monday offered singer Lady Gaga's new album, Born This Way for a low price of just 99 cents.

As a bonus, the cloud storage limit of anyone who bought the album yesterday was upgraded to 20 GB. That upgrade normally requires the purchase of a full-price album or a $20 a year fee.

The one-day-only sale that has proven to be a little too much for Amazon's system.

Lady Gaga fans have taken to Twitter to complain about slow downloads or a completely stalled out system.

Bowenventure tweeted , "Monsters don't like technical glitches! Unfortunately, it is affecting her album rating and Amazon's reputation!"

While Amazon was working to get back on its feet in the face of the ordering deluge, it tweeted a response to the situation, "We're currently experiencing very high volume. If you order today, you will get the full @ladygaga album for $.99. Thanks for your patience."

Zeus Kerravala, an analyst with Yankee Group, said Amazon's plan to use Lady Gaga to pull users away from iTunes is a good one and that yesterday's glitch shouldn't hurt the company much at all.

"I'm not saying it doesn't make them look bad. It does," said Kerravala. "But the next time they have an early release or a big discount, people will still flock back to the site. Consumers tend to be pretty forgiving, particularly when they can get stuff cheap."

Kerravala also said it appears that Amazon underestimated the popularity of the pop singer and how faithful and rabid her fans can be.

"But as long as they're prepared next time, I think people will forget this," he added. "Remember the first time Victoria's Secret broadcast their fashion show over the Web? It crushed the network. It still became really popular."

Amazon's trouble yesterday comes on the heels of its massive outage last month. That Amazon outage hampered or knocked out popular websites like Quora and Reddit for more than a day because of server problems at the Amazon data center that handles Web hosting services.

Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin , or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed . Her e-mail address is sgaudin@computerworld.com.

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Tags cloud computinginternetAppletwittere-commerceamazon.comYankee Groupe-business

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Sharon Gaudin

Computerworld (US)
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