There was once a time before Amazon.com. It’s a strange thought, that the digital marketplace has become so ubiquitous and has permeated so far into the consumer experience that it seems difficult, particularly for those who grew up in the Internet age, to imagine a world without it. Unmatched in terms of convenience and ease, Amazon has become the definitive online shopping center, providing everything from streaming videos to college textbooks, clothing and groceries. With all of this accomplished, it would be easy for founder Jeff Bezos and his team to rest on their laurels. But they’re just getting started.
Amazon was founded in 1994 and went live one year later. It began as an online bookstore, whose innate advantage was that its stock wasn’t limited by that which could be contained by one warehouse as it drew on a bevy of different suppliers. Over time, Amazon incorporated a series of other online startups and grew exponentially, changing its business model from that of a small online bookseller to that of an enormous corporation capable of selling just about anything.
As the company has grown so have its offerings, which has allowed Amazon to remain on the cutting edge of the digital marketplace. During the time iTunes store gained increasing popularity in the first decade of the 21st century, Amazon rolled out a competing MP3 service. In a similar vein, the company debuted a streaming video service that competes with websites like Hulu and Netflix.
In addition to selling media, Amazon is getting into its production as well. Last year, the company commissioned 14 pilots for new shows. Of these 14 pilots, five were chosen to be produced as series that could be streamed through the company’s video streaming service, much in the same vein as recent Netflix original series such as “House of Cards” and “Orange is the New Black,” both of which have been met with great success and a series of resounding critical accolades.
Amazon has also stayed true to its origins as a bookseller, spearheading the transition to literature’s digital age. The Amazon Kindle was the first popular e-reader device that allowed users to download books onto a small, lightweight tablet that could easily and unobtrusively fit into a coat pocket. To compete with Apple’s iPad and Samsung’s Galaxy Note tablet, Amazon recently unveiled the Kindle Fire, a touch-screen tablet with enhanced multimedia capabilities.
Most recently, Amazon rose to prominence at the center of the drone debate that captivated the American political sphere in 2013. While Congress and a series of political pundits debated the underlying moral issues of sending unmanned robots to complete what amounted to targeted assassinations, Amazon took the opportunity to put a positive spin on the technology and announced that it would be using this new technology to quickly and effectively deliver packages to its customers.
This series of technological innovations has allowed Amazon to comfortably dominate a series of nice markets and further solidified its status as an indispensible retail option for many. Additionally, this has also allowed the company to effectively hedge out many of its rivals by providing similar services at competitive prices. The business model has propelled Amazon from a humble online bookseller, struggling to turn a profit, into the foremost titan of the digital marketplace. With a record of competitive innovation and reinvention like this, there’s no telling the heights that Amazon will inevitably reach.
[Sources: Mashable, TechCrunch, BBC, Motley Fool, TIME]