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If I had to guess it would be that it doesn't test as well. Similarly to a physical store wanting you to browse, I can imagine Amazon wants you to look at the suggested items. If you wanted to search you will still search, but you might also get distracted and purchase something you were interested in.

That's what I came up with too. But on thinking deeper, it doesn't seem to hold true.

The kind of user who likes to browse will probably browse using a mouse, not a keyboard like us nerds. So the position of the cursor doesn't matter to them.

I hardly ever go to Amazon and not directly search for something (except maybe during Black Friday deals when I just click on the banner). I'd bet Amazon loses money by making me do an extra mouse click into the search box every time.

Unless there's a sizeable proportion of users who go to the homepage and scroll using the keyboard, I don't get it.

I'd love to see the data, but knowing Amazon they have both extensively tested it and will not release the findings. Anecdotally I have never not purchased something because I had to set the cursor focus and I have purchased something I saw on the home page.

Also, if you're a nerd, just search right in the browser. If I want to search Amazon I never actually go Amazon first I just type "a", hit tab and then my search terms. Chrome is smart enough to do the rest and I get right to the SERP on Amazon.

Seeing a blinking cursor and a potentially-highlighted search box (not for me on Chrome at least) might distract a portion of those users.

edit: Mouse movement = tracking content with eyes? http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=5333496

You've gone to Amazon, had to do an extra click, and decided not to buy because of that?

Remove the question mark - you've succinctly described funnel optimization.

I would have never thought so, but Amazon's own data has shown that seemingly trivial things like increasing page load times by 100 ms reduces sales by a non-negligible %.

Why do you think they obsess over dropdown menus?

We're all arguing over data we don't have, but if they have that kind of information I think they have also considered search box focus. Seeing that they don't have it, one can draw the conclusion that for their site it was not profitable.

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