Amazon.com is an American e-commerce
company. The Seattle-based company was founded by Jeff Bezos in 1994 and its website went online in 1995. The company started off as an online bookstore but soon began selling other products as well. Today, Amazon is the biggest online retailer in the world, selling books, CDs, DVDs, consumer electronics, apparel and more in most major markets across the globe.
Amazon went public in 1997 although it wasnít until the fourth quarter of 2001 that the company turned its first profit. The company has been profitable ever since and in 2010, Amazon reported a record profit
of 1.15 billion U.S. dollars. Amazonís revenue
grew from 6.9 billion dollars in 2004 to 34.2 billion dollars in 2010. A categorized breakdown of Amazonís 2010 revenue
shows that media sales (books, CDs, DVDs, et al.) have been surpassed by sales of electronics and other products for the first time in the companyís history.
In 2007, Amazon introduced the Kindle, an electronic reading device featuring a so-called e-ink display that simulates reading on paper. Even though priced at a steep $399, the Kindle was an instant hit with customers and sold out within hours. After several price drops, an ad-supported version of the Kindle can now be purchased for less than $100 depending on the configuration. In December 2010, Amazon announced that the third generation Kindle had become its best-selling product ever, even surpassing the latest Harry Potter book in unit sales. Consequently, Amazon dominates the e-reader market: Kindleís market share
in 2011 is expected to be above 70 percent.
In September 2011, Amazon announced the Kindle Fire, a 7-inch multimedia tablet
that features a multicolour touchscreen instead of an e-ink display. The Kindle Fire runs on a modified version of Googleís Android and is priced aggressively at $199. Rumours have it that Amazon is losing money on every unit sold but is supposedly willing to do so because it views the Kindle Fire as a long term investment to promote its digital content offerings. With its attractive price and Amazonís content ecosystem in the background, analysts predict that Amazon will be able to sell up to 5 million Kindle Fires by the end of 2011
. This would make Amazon the first company to give Apple a run for its money on the tablet market
, that has thus far been dominated by the technically-superior but more expensive iPad
. It will be interesting to see how the Kindle Fire influences sales of the other Kindle readers and Amazon's overall results in the next few quarters