This is a suggestion which Roger McNamee makes on loc 2041 of Zucked. Note that he’s not suggesting corporate espionage but rather inference of trends from superficially innocuous data Amazon have privileged access to as platform provider:
Amazon can use its cloud services business to monitor the growth of potential competitors, though there is little evidence that Amazon has acted on this intelligence the way it has leveraged data about bestselling products in its marketplace.
This is something which Amazon do with increasing frequency on their main shopping site, producing generic versions of popular products that can be retailed more cheaply. In some cases, it is hard to discern you are buying an Amazon product. It’s not corporate espionage but Amazon’s gods eye view of the marketplace, as well as their capacity to privilege their own products in search, gives them an unassailable advantage over competitors.
How might AWS figure into this strategy? Are there any safeguards against it? Where might this go in the longer term? Amazon are depending on research and development taking place elsewhere which they are tracking the effectiveness of through their platform. But what happens if their anti competitive practice eviscerates this capacity? Would they be able to originate development rather than simply piggy backing on it? I think this will be the key challenge Amazon faces in its increasingly likely transition to unprecedented monopoly.