This is a billion-dollar idea that I hereby give to Amazon for free. Why? Because they have everything it takes to make it happen, and I want it now.
My sister Meg in Philadelphia has four children -- Connor, Nick, Lucy, and Bea. They're all less than eight years old, and somehow their birthdays seem to show up more than once a year.
But it's not just family members who are multiplying my chances to give. My local friends have all apparently gotten a secret telegraph signal to breed; at our recent ski weekend in Tahoe, there were 13 adults, 7 children under 3, one in the oven, and one on the, er, drawing board. Drawing bed? :-)
That's a lot of presents! Clearly, I need help. Let me make my motive clear. I am not just looking to buy these chillun' any old present out of some misplaced social urge crossed with good old American excess consumption. There are particular gifts that I want to get them -- great books I read as a kid, cool science toys, that sort of stuff. But I'm always frantic and behind the curve when their birthday comes, and the timing of me having a great present idea never seems to correlate with a suitable birthday.
I want the present planner from Amazon.
They've already built most of it. They already have most of my friends' shipping addresses in their system, a legacy of gifts past. They have a huge catalog of stuff. All they need to do is allow me to enter the name and birthday of the kids at each address, and create a special shopping cart / present pool that I can throw stuff into at any time during the year. Then, either prompted or un-prompted, they mail an appropriate, pre-chosen gift out a week in advance, gift-wrapped from Unka Ethan.
It's yet another instance of ERP for people.
That's version 1.0.
Version 2.0 is for the harried person who really doesn't know what to get his nephew. For this to work, Amazon only needs to collect one additional piece of information -- the age of each kid. Then, they will begin to learn what 5 year olds in zip code 44691 are getting for their birthdays. At scale, they can use this to make awesome recommendations -- "here's what her friends are getting from their uncles."
I can't believe this hasn't been done yet. It's a logical explosion of the PIM into verticals. Amazon already stores task-specific address book information, and it should start providing task-specific calendaring as well.
Heck, they should provide an Outlook upload feature -- I'd add a bunch of people to their address pool if they built this.
I can't wait. Please hurry, Amazon. Make yourselves a billion dollars.