Amazon first entered the media industry as a major online retailer in the late ‘90s. The company began by selling CDs and DVDs to a burgeoning market of online shoppers who began turning to the internet for music and movies, before the technical feasibility of streaming and the advent of the iPod. But it wasn’t until 2005, with the initial launch of Amazon Prime, that the company began laying the ground work for a future digital media ecosystem that integrated directly into its online store.
As it stands today, Amazon employs more than half a million people, more so than any other technology company in the country and second only to Walmart in the US. But the eventual result of its investments in robotics and AI is that technology’s biggest and fast-growing workforce could see that growth start to slow and, perhaps years down the line, even shrink as robots tackle ever more complicated tasks. In the process, the company may develop robots for use outside its fulfillment centers. Amazon has already changed how we shop and, by extension, how we live our lives. Its next big step could be changing how we work.

On January 22, 2018, Amazon Go, a store that uses cameras and sensors to detect items that a shopper grabs off shelves and automatically charges a shopper's Amazon account, was opened to the general public in Seattle.[54][55] Customers scan their Amazon Go app as they enter, and are required to have an Amazon Go app installed on their smartphone and a linked Amazon account to be able to enter.[54] The technology is meant to eliminate the need for checkout lines.[56][57][58] Amazon Go was initially opened for Amazon employees in December 2016.[59][60][61] In August 2018, the second Amazon Go store opened its doors.[62][63]


After reading a report about the future of the Internet that projected annual web commerce growth at 2,300%, Bezos created a list of 20 products that could be marketed online. He narrowed the list to what he felt were the five most promising products, which included: compact discs, computer hardware, computer software, videos, and books. Bezos finally decided that his new business would sell books online, due to the large worldwide demand for literature, the low price points for books, along with the huge number of titles available in print.[27] Amazon was founded in the garage of Bezos' rented home in Bellevue, Washington.[25][28][29] Bezos' parents invested almost $250,000 in the start-up.[30]

Since its founding, the company has attracted criticism and controversy from multiple sources over its actions. These include: supplying law enforcement with facial recognition surveillance tools;[154] forming cloud computing partnerships with the CIA;[155] luring customers away from the site's brick and mortar competitors;[156] placing a low priority on warehouse conditions for workers; participating in anti-unionization efforts; remotely deleting content purchased by Amazon Kindle users; taking public subsidies; claiming that its 1-Click technology can be patented; engaging in anti-competitive actions and price discrimination;[157] and reclassifying LGBT books as adult content.[158][159] Criticism has also concerned various decisions over whether to censor or publish content such as the WikiLeaks website, works containing libel and material facilitating dogfight, cockfight, or pedophile activities. In December 2011, Amazon faced a backlash from small businesses for running a one-day deal to promote its new Price Check app. Shoppers who used the app to check prices in a brick-and-mortar store were offered a 5% discount to purchase the same item from Amazon.[160] Companies like Groupon, eBay and Taap.it countered Amazon's promotion by offering $10 off from their products.[161][162] The company has also faced accusations of putting undue pressure on suppliers to maintain and extend its profitability. One effort to squeeze the most vulnerable book publishers was known within the company as the Gazelle Project, after Bezos suggested, according to Brad Stone, "that Amazon should approach these small publishers the way a cheetah would pursue a sickly gazelle."[122] In July 2014, the Federal Trade Commission launched a lawsuit against the company alleging it was promoting in-app purchases to children, which were being transacted without parental consent.[163]
A 2015 front-page article in The New York Times profiled several former Amazon employees[192] who together described a "bruising" workplace culture in which workers with illness or other personal crises were pushed out or unfairly evaluated.[11] Bezos responded by writing a Sunday memo to employees,[193] in which he disputed the Times's account of "shockingly callous management practices" that he said would never be tolerated at the company.[11]
The Amazon sales rank (ASR) provides an indication of the popularity of a product sold on any Amazon locale. It is a relative indicator of popularity that is updated hourly. Effectively, it is a "best sellers list" for the millions of products stocked by Amazon.[134] While the ASR has no direct effect on the sales of a product, it is used by Amazon to determine which products to include in its bestsellers lists.[134] Products that appear in these lists enjoy additional exposure on the Amazon website and this may lead to an increase in sales. In particular, products that experience large jumps (up or down) in their sales ranks may be included within Amazon's lists of "movers and shakers"; such a listing provides additional exposure that might lead to an increase in sales.[135] For competitive reasons, Amazon does not release actual sales figures to the public. However, Amazon has now begun to release point of sale data via the Nielsen BookScan service to verified authors.[136] While the ASR has been the source of much speculation by publishers, manufacturers, and marketers, Amazon itself does not release the details of its sales rank calculation algorithm. Some companies have analyzed Amazon sales data to generate sales estimates based on the ASR,[137] though Amazon states:
Although As Seen On TV was founded in the 1980’s by Shark Tank panel member Kevin Harrington, the public domain label is often used to refer to all infomercials that have aired to date – ranging from the familiar Ron Popeil and his line of popular “o-matic” products, to Sir James Dyson and everyone in between. The infomercials all use direct marketing which allows customers to immediately understand the benefits of a product, and provides the seller with an easy way to track results and understand if a campaign will be profitable.
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