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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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