I'm sure it's happened before but I've never encountered it. I did yesterday though. I'm talking about the Amazon outage. I was on a conference call, tried to look up a title but got a cryptic error message instead. I thought maybe our Internet connection was down so I asked a colleague in the Hoboken office to check -- sure enough, he got the same message.
The AP story above notes the outage lasted a couple of hours. Yikes. Imagine what it would be like for every outlet of a brick-and-mortar chain to be out of commission for two hours during a peak business period. By my unscientific estimates, that's between $2 and $3 million of revenue per hour that may have been lost. Yes, some customers would have come back 3 hours later to make their purchase, but others probably gave up and went elsewhere.
More importantly, does this outage in any way compromise Amazon's ability to sell their EC2 web services? I realize nothing is 100% bulletproof and outages do occur, but I guess I just figured there had to be so much redundancy and back-up at Amazon that we'd never see something like this in the middle of a business day. Go figure.