The Week in Tech: Amazon’s Burning Problems

For instance, Mr. Blumenthal wrote, a competitor to Amazon might try to gain an edge by charging merchants a smaller commission. If those merchants also sell on Amazon, however, they could not pass along those savings to their customers, because of the M.F.N. clause. That would be bad for consumers while reinforcing Amazon’s dominance. Amazon declined to comment.

■ It used to be that only a few cranks criticized Amazon, but that is rapidly shifting. Still, I was surprised at the take-no-prisoners tone of David Heinemeier Hansson, the programmer who writes and tweets as DHH, in an open letter to Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s founder, on Medium.

“I think you’re currently making bad decisions that you’re going to regret. Maybe even decisions that we as a whole society will come to regret,” DHH wrote. He added that Mr. Bezos still had time to shape his legacy “into something more than the man who killed retail, extracted the greatest loot from its HQ cities, and who expanded the most monopoly holdings the fastest.”

DHH wrote his piece in November, but Medium surfaced it in its daily digest just last week. What makes his criticism especially noteworthy is that Mr. Bezos is a shareholder in DHH’s software development company, Basecamp. DHH notes that he and his co-founder have not talked to Mr. Bezos for at least seven years but that “if we get another chance, this would be the most pressing topic.”

■ One last new Amazon development, which might be the biggest of all: unionization. Workers at Amazon’s biggest warehouse in Spain began a two-day strike on Thursday. Warehouse employees on Staten Island are calling for unionization, following the lead of colleagues in Minnesota. Here is a good wrap-up from the Guardian. Amazon has successfully stymied unionization efforts since the company began, so this shift is momentous.

■ In non-Amazon news, it appears that the answer to the eternal question of whether the world can have too many iPhones is: Quite likely.

■ Thanks to Apple’s news, the stock market as I write is again plunging. But there’s a silver lining for tech companies: They are big, and getting bigger, and a recession might only help them against the competition.