Amazon, Inc. is an American multinational technology company. It focuses on e-commerce, cloud computing, digital streaming, and artificial intelligence. However, It has been referred to as “one of the most influential economic and cultural forces in the world”. It is one of the world’s most valuable brands.
What exactly does Amazon do?
It is a vast online enterprise that sells books, music, movies, housewares, electronics, toys, and also many other goods. Either directly or as the middleman between other retailers and millions of its customers. Its Web services business includes renting data storage and also computing resources, so-called “cloud computing,”. However, its considerable online presence is such that, in 2012 1 percent of all Internet traffic in North America traveled in and out of Amazon’s data centers. The company also makes the market-leading Kindle e-book readers. However, Its promotion of these devices has led to dramatic growth in e-book publishing and also turned itself into a major disruptive force in the book-publishing market.
History and timeline
Before reaching such astronomical heights, Amazon (like many tech companies) started from very humble beginnings.
Amazon’s History and timeline
Amazon has come a long way. Since it was founded by Jeff Bezos in his garage in Bellevue, Wash., on July 5, 1994. The following is a brief history and also timeline of events that have evolved Amazon from its humble beginnings to a multinational business empire.
Amazon was actually started for business as an online bookseller. At the time, the business name was “Cadabra”. Bezos only changed it to “Amazon” after a lawyer misheard the original brand name as “Cadaver”. Bezos is said to have browsed a dictionary for a word beginning with A for the value of alphabetic placement. He selected the name Amazon because it was exotic. Since its inception, the company’s motto has always been “get big fast.”
In 2005, Amazon’s Prime membership-based service for customers offers free two-day shipping within the contiguous U.S.,. As well as it also offers streaming, shopping and reading benefits. According to Amazon’s website, current Amazon’s Prime membership rates are $14.99 a month or $139 per year.
Amazon’s Web Services
This comprehensive and evolving cloud computing platform was also born in the 2000s. The first Amazon Web Services (AWS) offerings were launched in 2006. That provides online services for websites and also client-side applications. Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) and Simple Storage Service (S3) are the backbones of the company’s growing collection of web services. The same year, this platform also launched a cloud computing and video-on-demand service known at the time as Unbox.
By changing the way people bought books. This platform also shaped how they read them with the launch of its first Kindle e-reader in 2007. Kindle e-reader device helps users browse, buy and also read e-books, magazines from the Kindle Store.
From the 2010s to present
Amazon debuted its first tablet computer, the Kindle Fire, in 2011. Amazon’s Fire TV Stick, which is alsso a part of Amazon’s extensive line of streaming media devices, in 2014.
This e-commerce platform also started an online Art marketplace for fine arts in 2013. It has featured original works by famous artists such as Claude Monet and Norman Rockwell. Moreover, the popular in-home virtual assistant Alexa was moved to consumers in 2015. However, it was followed by the Alexa-equipped Echo Dot in 2016.
Amazon.com Attained the organic grocery store Whole Foods in 2017. It also launched Amazon Go, a chain of cashier-less grocery stores in 2018. The rise of in-home shopping during the COVID-19 pandemic made consumers rely on this platform even more, and is likely to keep growing.
Notable Amazon’s products and services
Amazon offers an ever-expanding portfolio of services and products. Following is a list of its noteworthy offerings.
- Amazon Marketplace. Amazon’s e-commerce platform enables third-party retailers to showcase and also sell their products alongside Amazon items.
- Amazon Fresh. Amazon’s grocery pickup and delivery service is also currently available in nearly two dozen U.S. cities and a few international locations. A grocery order can be done through the Amazon Fresh website or mobile app. Customers can either get their groceries delivered or visit the store for pickup.
- Amazon’s Vine. Launched in 2007, it also helps manufacturers and publishers get reviews for their products to help shoppers make informed purchases.
- Woot. Attained by Amazon in 2010, Woot offers limited time offers and special deals that rotate daily. This shop features refurbished items, as well as new items that are low in stock. Prime members get free shipping.
- Zappos. Amazon bought Zappos in 2009. This online retailer of shoes and clothing carries a wide range of brands, including Nike, Sperry, Adidas and Uggs.
- Merch. This on-demand T-shirt printing service enables sellers to create and upload their T-shirt designs for free and earn royalties on each sale. Amazon does the rest — from printing the T-shirts to delivering them to customers.
- Handmade. This platform enables artisans to sell handcrafted products to customers around the world.
- Kindle. Amazon’s first e-reader, Kindle, enables users to browse, buy and read e-books, magazines, and newspapers from the Kindle Store.
- Amazon Fire tablet. Previously known as Kindle Fire, Amazon’s popular and high-profile Fire tablet competes with Apple’s iPad.
- Fire TV. This line of Amazon’s streaming media players and digital devices delivers streamed video content over the internet to a paired high-definition television.
- Amazon Alexa. This cloud-based, AI-powered, voice-controlled personal assistant is designed to answer queries, interact with users, and perform other tasks and commands.
- Amazon Echo. This is one of Amazon’s smart home devices that comes equipped with a speaker and connects to Alexa. It can perform several functions, including talking about the weather, creating shopping lists and controlling other smart products, such as lights, switches and televisions.
- Amazon Echo Dot. A smaller, puck-shaped version of the original Amazon Echo, an Echo Dot can be placed in any room. It can answer questions, play music, and read news and other stories.
- Echo Show. As part of the Amazon Echo line of speakers, the Amazon Echo Show works similarly through Alexa but also offers a 7-inch touchscreen display to play videos and music and conduct video calls with other Echo users.
- Amazon Astro. This is Amazon’s first home monitoring robot that also works with Alexa. It is design to help with various household tasks. Like home monitoring, caring for the elderly through notifications and alerts, and following owners from room to room to play TV shows, music or podcasts.
- Amazon Prime. This subscription service provides members access to exclusive shopping and entertainment services, discounts and more. As an example, all Amazon Prime members enjoy free one-day or two-day shipping on qualifying orders.
- Amazon Prime Video. This is Amazon’s on-demand video streaming service that offers a selection of about 24,000 movies and over 2,100 TV shows. This service is included with an Amazon Prime membership.
- Amazon Drive. Previously known as Amazon Cloud Drive, Amazon Drive is a cloud storage app that offers 5 gigabytes (GB) of free and secure online storage for photos, videos and files for Amazon customers. Amazon Prime members get free, unlimited, full-resolution photo storage, along with 5 GB of video storage.
- Twitch Prime. A monthly subscription service, Twitch Prime is a subsidiary of Amazon Prime. It gives members premium access to Twitch — a video streaming platform that offers a fun and social way to watch people play games.
- Music Prime. This is Amazon’s music streaming service that is free for Prime members.
- Amazon Pay. An online transaction processing platform, Amazon Pay enables Amazon account holders to use their Amazon accounts to pay external online merchants.
- Music Unlimited. Amazon’s premium music service costs $8.99 a month for Prime members and $9.99 for non-Prime members.
- Kindle Store. Part of Amazon’s retail website, the Kindle Store can be accessed from any Kindle device to purchase e-books.
- App store for Android. Amazon’s app store for the Android operating system enables users to download games and mobile apps to supported devices.
- S3. This is Amazon’s scalable, cloud-based object storage. Files are referred to as objects in S3 and are stored in containers called buckets.
- Simple Queue Service (SQS). SQS is a pay-per-use web service that is design to provide access to a waiting message queue where messages can reside until a computer processes them.
- Amazon EC2. This web service interface also provides scalability with resizable compute capacity in the AWS cloud. Users can run virtual servers or instances, commonly known as EC2 instances, that can also be scaled up or down, depending on the network requirements.
- Amazon S3 Glacier. Amazon S3 Glacier is a low-cost cloud storage service for data that might also be associated with longer retrieval times. It also offers data archiving and backup of cold data.
- AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM). IAM provides secure and controlled access to resources.
- Amazon Redshift. This data warehouse in the cloud enables users to query petabytes of both structured and semi structured data using standard Structured Query Language queries. For example, to address the expanding volume of transactions, Nasdaq moved from a legacy on-premises data center to the AWS cloud, which is sponsor through the Amazon Redshift cluster.
Amazon AI services
- Amazon’s SageMaker. A fully managed cloud machine learning platform, Amazon SageMaker enables developers and data scientists to build, train and deploy machine learning models for predictive analytics applications.
- Amazon’s Lex. This service for building conversational interfaces into any application using voice and text is powered by the same technology as Alexa.
- Amazon’s Polly. A text-to-speech service, Amazon Polly uses deep learning technology to convert text into spoken audio. It includes 60 voices across 29 languages.
- Amazon’s Rekognition. This software-as-a-service facial recognition and analysis platform uses a deep learning algorithm to process images and extract information from them.
- AWS Deep Lens. This programmable video camera enables developers to easily experiment with machine learning, AI and the internet of things.
- Alexa Voice Service. This programming interface provides developers with a set of C++ libraries to add Alexa’s speech and other capabilities into their applications and devices.
- Amazon’s Transcribe. This service converts speech to text quickly and accurately by using a deep learning process called automatic speech recognition.
- Amazon Translate. Amazon Translate is a cloud service that can convert large amounts of text written in one language to another language.
- Alexa Skills Kit. This software development kit enables developers to build skills or conversational applications on Amazon Alexa.
Amazon privately owned brands
- AmazonBasics. This is Amazon’s privately labeled, low-budget brand that mainly sells kitchen, tech and household products.
- Amazon Elements. This line of domestic products includes health and personal care items, as well as nutritional supplements.
- Mama Bear. This private label of Amazon sells baby wipes, newborn through size 6 diapers, baby food, diaper pail refills and baby laundry detergent.
- Presto!. This brand started as a laundry detergent in 2016 but has added household paper towels and toilet paper to its product line.
- Amazon Essentials. A Prime-exclusive program, this clothing line offers basic wear for men, women, babies and kids, with additional options for family, big and tall, and athletic activity.
- Happy Belly. This private label of Amazon was introduced in 2016 and sells snack food items. In February 2019, the brand also began offering milk delivery services.
- Goodthreads. This menswear apparel line is available exclusively to Amazon Prime members. The label offers both casual and professional pieces. It is deemed a bit higher quality and more stylish than the Amazon Essentials brand.
Notable Amazon subsidiaries and acquisitions
From healthcare to entertainment, Amazon has acquired multiple companies by tapping into a variety of sectors over time.
Following is a list of Amazon’s notable acquisitions and subsidiary companies:
- IMDb. The world’s most popular database for movies, TV, celebrity, video games and streaming online content was also acquire by this platform in 1998.
- Audible. Audible, a book and spoken audio content provider, was acquire by Amazon in 2008 for $300 million.
- Zappos. Amazon acquired this online shoe and clothing retailer in an all-stock deal worth $1.2 billion in 2009.
- Twitch. A social media and video game streaming platform, Twitch was purchased by Amazon for $970 million in 2014.
- Whole Foods. Food, beverage and organic grocery store chain Whole Foods was acquired by Amazon for $13.7 billion in 2017.
- Ring. This e-commerce platform took ownership of this home security and smart home company in 2018 for $1 billion.
- Zoox. An autonomous vehicles, robotics and transportation company was attained as a wholly owned subsidiary by this platform for $1.2 billion in 2020.
- Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Amazon acquired this film and TV studio for $8.5 billion in March 2022.
Amazon controversies and criticisms
The Amazon has suffered a massive backlash over the years from multiple sources. The tech giant is also being organize responsible for creating the Amazon effect — the evolution and disruption of the retail market due to the company exhibiting monopolistic behaviors.
Following are a few concerns and allegations that Amazon has faced over time:
- Monopolistic and anticompetitive behavior. Due to Amazon’s size and economies of scale, it has been outpricing local and small shopkeepers and is accused of displacing an open market with a privately controlled one. This is leading to the slow death of the brick-and-mortar store model built by companies such as Sears and J.C. Penney.
- Unfair treatment of workers. Amazon is frequently under the microscope for providing unfair work conditions in its warehouses, including treating workers as robots, providing low wages and also creating unsafe work conditions.
- E-waste. Moreover, a recent investigation conducted by British television network ITV uncovered how this platform is contributing to the world’s e-waste crisis by destroying millions of unused or returned products. This also includes millions of electronics, such as phones, computers and TVs that are toxic to soil, water, air and wildlife.
- Counterfeit product listings. It has been under scrutiny by brands, shoppers and also lawmakers as counterfeiters have been listing and selling fake products on it through its third-party marketplace. However, to crack down on counterfeit products on its site, this platform destroyed 2 million counterfeit products sent to its warehouses and blocked 10 billion fake listings in 2021.
- Avoiding taxation. Edging fast toward a monopoly status. It has been criticize for often avoiding tax payments despite making huge profits. Moreover, according to a report by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, the company avoided around $5.2 billion in corporate federal income taxes in 2021.
According to a news release posted on Amazon’s investor relations website, Amazon experienced a significant increase in net sales but a decrease in operating income in the first quarter of 2022.
Following are some notable statistics from the release:
- Net sales increased 7% to $116.4 billion in the first quarter, compared also with $108.5 billion in the first quarter of 2021. Excluding the $1.8 billion unfavorable impacts from year-over-year changes in foreign exchange rates throughout the quarter, net sales increased 9% compared with the first quarter of 2021.
- Operating income decreased to $3.7 billion in the first quarter, compared with $8.9 billion in the first quarter of 2021.
- Net loss was $3.8 billion in the first quarter compare to the net income of $8.1 billion in the first quarter of 2021.
Besides being recognize as a company with business interests in e-commerce, cloud computing and also AI services. This Platform also offers an extensive list of subscription services. Learn about these services and the perks they offer.
However, this was a brief introduction to an e-commerce platform. In this article, we learn about Amazon’s history and timelines. In our next articles, we will discuss its different services and how we can earn money online from Amazon.
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