PETALING JAYA: The news of online retail giant Amazon launching in Malaysia by the end of 2017 turned out to be a hugely successful April Fool prank.
Over the weekend, a few news outlets reported that “Amazon.my” would be launched in collaboration with affiliate partner, iPrice Malaysia.
Exclusive first “screenshots” of the Amazon.my homepage and product page featuring the site in Bahasa Malaysia were also shared, to the delight of many.
According to a press release that was published on the iPrice Malaysia blog, Raja Bomoh Sedunia or Ibrahim Mat Zin is among its first special merchants.
A screenshot of Raja Bomoh's product page shows a "Bomoh Search Engine" which includes a pair of fresh coconuts, a pair of “All Seeing Sticks”, a wooden basket and a magic carpet for sale.
Despite the buzz over the news, iPrice Malaysia's announcement is an April Fool's joke, evident from the "Happy April Fool's Day" sign-off at the end of the press release.
A link to the Amazon.my tutorial page that supposedly features a live demonstration of the site redirects to a YouTube video of Rick Astley's Never Gonna Give You Up.
So you get “rickrolled” too.
iPrice Malaysia content marketing executive Jeremy Chew told The Star Online that the company did not intend for the joke to be mistaken for the real thing.
"Our intent was not to deceive, but to share our imagination of how it would be when Amazon enters South-East Asia," he said.
He added that the iPrice group was excited to hear the news of Amazon's impending entry into the region, and wanted to play around with the idea of a localised Amazon website.
"Our designers and writers added local humour to the materials to hint that the press release is an April Fool's prank," he said, referring to Raja Bomoh and Rick Astley's "cameo appearances."
Several technology portals reported late last year that Amazon would enter South-East Asia via a launch of selected services in Singapore slated for the first quarter of 2017, but no notable developments have emerged since.
iPrice Group is a regional online shopping platform that allows users to compare the prices of goods across different e-commerce sites.
Malaysia was not the only target of the group’s joke – it also released similar press releases in Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines and Vietnam.