Amazon turns 25 years old

Last week, Amazon turned 25 years old. The company was founded on July 5, 1994 by Jeff Bezos. While it initially sold books, it soon expanded into numerous other areas. Now, it’s both one of the biggest tech companies (alongside Apple, Facebook, Google, and Microsoft) and retail companies (competing with Walmart, Target, and various smaller businesses).

Below, I look at some highlights about Amazon, including previous posts I’ve written.

Amazon’s main source of revenue is still selling stuff

As I wrote earlier this year, Amazon earned $232.9 billion in revenue in 2018. Of that:

  • 53% came from online stores, a.k.a. its famous website. I assume Comixology sales also count toward this.
  • 18% from third-party retail seller services, aka the Amazon Marketplace.
  • 11% from Amazon Web Services (AWS), its cloud computing/server hosting platform.
  • 7% from brick-and-mortar sales, including Whole Foods.

Amazon Prime’s a valuable premium offering

Amazon Prime has been a significant premium offering for both Amazon and consumers. For $119 a year, users get free shipping, plus a sizable number of other services.

JP Morgan calculated what each service would be worth as a standalone features:

Infographic
Infographic by Statista (CC BY-ND)

I also wrote about alternative services to each of Amazon Prime’s offerings.

Amazon buying Comixology

Comixology screenshotBack in 2014, Amazon made a splash in the comics world by buying the top digital comic vender, Comixology. Since then, Amazon has integrated Comixology into the company, mostly by:

  • Merging Amazon and Comixology accounts
  • Allowing Kindle comic purchases to be read within Comixology’s app
  • Offering Comixology Unlimited, a subscription service akin to Marvel Unlimited/DC Universe, but mostly featuring non-Big Two comics

Oddly, Comixology hasn’t stopped offering DRM-free comics as an option for publishers. (Versus the DRM on Kindle-formatted ebooks.) To date, most of the non-DC/Marvel publishers on the service offers downloading DRM-free copies.

Anti-competitive business practices

Granted, Amazon is basically an online version of Walmart. As such, they engage in the same problematic business practices as their brick-and-mortar rival: warehouse worker conditions and other mistreatment of workers; anti-union attitudes; killing a Seattle tax on large businesses that would’ve helped the homeless population; etc. There’s also reports that, despite Bezos being the wealthiest man on Earth, Amazon didn’t pay a dime in federal taxes last year.

At one point, Amazon refused to stock the Apple TV and Chromecast, streaming devices that competed with their own Fire line. (They’ve since changed their mind.)

More recently came the infamous “HQ2” search that had North America abuzz. The whole thing ended with more of a whimper than a bang. Amazon chose the two most obvious cities, New York and Washington DC; Amazon backed out of the former after local protests.

I do use some of Amazon’s services, such as the Fire tablet I bought a few years ago. There’s also the occasional ordering from their website, mostly at holidays/birthdays/special occasions. That said, I’ve also written about alternatives for buying books through Amazon.

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