From ecommerce to Kindle, the history of Amazon


An impactful name was needed. A name that was at the same time exotic and mysterious, but which was common and familiar to people’s ears. A name that conveyed a sense of power. A name, above all, that began with A, so that it was among the first words in alphabetical order. Jeff Bezos put his dictionary in hand and skimmed through it until he got almost halfway through the words that begin with A. There he met the one that would literally change his life. And it was love at first sight.

amazon logo

Amazon , this is the long searched word, embodies all the characteristics listed above: it is a word known to most people, but at the same time it conveys something exotic; conveys a sense of power and grandeur – it is the name of the largest river in the world – and, above all, it began with A. It may seem strange but Amazon, the largest e-commerce site in the world, owes its name to this research carried out by its current CEO way back in 1994. Back then Bezos set out to sell books to the whole world. Now it sells practically everything and everywhere: from hardware to software, from clothes to food, from fitness equipment to gardening equipment. And thanks to the Kindle it allowed the whole world to learn about ebooks. But the beginnings were anything but rosy.

The beginning of a dream

jeff bezos

In 1994 Bezos left his position as vice president at DE Shaw in New York and moved to the East Coast of the United States . Precisely in Bellevue, Washington state. Bezos buys a house and establishes Amazon headquarters in the garage attached to his home. Given the space available, Amazon initially was nothing more than a small group of people who packaged and shipped books throughout the United States. And above all it has a strange development plan. In fact, when he was still in New York, Bezos read an article about the imminent explosion of the e-commerce market and decided that he absolutely had to be part of it. He wrote down a list of twenty products that could be sold via a website and from these he chose what he thought were the 5 most promising: CDs, software, hardware, video cassettes and books. The choice initially falls on the latter.

The first investors


The development plan drawn up by the founder of Amazon foresees that, in the first five years of activity, the company would not produce profits and would continue to operate at a loss. Someone, however, begins to believe in this idea and invests heavily in the project: the first was Nick Hanauer, who put 40,000 dollars into the Amazon project, followed a few months later by Tom Alburg, who wrote a check for 100,000 dollars. Also due to the bursting of the “Internet bubble”, profits were a couple of years later than expected, but in 2001 Amazon was finally able to distribute the first dividends to its shareholders. opens


In July 1995, the website opened its doors and the first book to be sold and shipped was Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies: Computer Models of the Fundamental Mechanisms of Thought by Douglas Hofstadter. Already in the first months of activity, Amazon experienced incredible success thanks to the combination of a vast catalog and low prices. In short, Amazon had already become an Internet phenomenon. But all this is not enough for Bezos. A few months after the site opened, users were given the opportunity to leave their opinion on the books they purchase. Amazon, from a simple e-commerce site, transforms into a real community , where users make their knowledge available to help with possible purchases to be made.

Landing on the stock exchange

In 1997 Amazon decided to expand its business and go public : CDs and films were added to the catalogue, followed the following year by software, consumer electronics, video games, toys and household tools. 1998 is also the year of the ocean crossing. Amazon, which in the meantime had also started selling outside the US borders, opened offices in the United Kingdom and Germany. The following year Bezos was awarded the title of Man of the Year by Time magazine for his merits in the global diffusion of e-commerce. The first years of the new millennium are rather turbulent. Within a few months Bezos was forced to lay off around 1,000 employees and Amazon is on the verge of bankruptcy. The founder and CEO of the company decided not to give up and to continue with his adventure. Slowly Amazon recovers and returns to grow at an incredible rate, further expanding its catalogue, grinding out profit after profit.

The launch of the first e-book reader: the birth of the Kindle


But it is thanks to the launch of the Kindle on the market that Amazon also manages to establish itself as a producer of technological products. The Kindle is a plastic parallelepiped with a 6-inch screen with 16 shades of gray that allows you to comfortably read e-books sold on the Amazon store. It is the first version of the Kindle. Since then the world of reading has never been the same thanks to the brilliant invention of the Amazon laboratories. Over the years the e-book reader has undergone several changes, leading to the development of a low – cost tablet that offers users many interesting features.Fastweb Casa Light

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The arrival in Italy

amazon warehouse

Italy could not be missing from its global expansion plan and in fact on 18 November 2010 officially opened , with a huge catalog ready to exploit the desire of Italians to purchase online. Until that moment there were very few companies focusing on e-commerce: Amazon opened a path that would soon be followed by all the main national players. With the growing number of orders, Amazon was forced to open a sorting center in Italy: the chosen area was Castal San Giovanni in the province of Piacenza. It is not excluded that the US company will open another center to cover the central-southern area of ​​Italy in the near future, due to the growing volume of business.

With its arrival in Italy, Amazon has also launched its strong point in the Bel Paese: the Kindle ebook reader . In a country that historically has a low percentage of readers, Amazon has aimed to expand the number of books available in the online catalogue, to encourage users to purchase their own ebook reader. In 2014 Amazon launched the Kindle Unlimited service : by paying a monthly subscription (less than ten euros) users have the opportunity to access a library with more than twenty thousand titles in Italian and over one million in English.

The Echo home assistant

After revolutionizing the world of reading with the launch of the Kindle, Jeff Bezos decided to win another challenge by producing and developing Echo , a speaker with microphone, which thanks to artificial intelligence, called Alexa, can act as a home and personal assistant . The small device in Italy did not have the success it deserved, but the good number of sales it had in the United States convinced Amazon to launch two new updated versions in 2016 with even greater functionality.

Amazon Prime

Amazon Prime is a service that has revolutionized the e-commerce market: a challenge launched by Jeff Bezos to the main competitors and which was fully won. One of the main defects when buying online is the shipping times: three or four days for the product to arrive at home. Amazon Prime has reduced delivery times by guaranteeing one-day shipping. To use the service you need to pay an annual subscription of 19.99 euros. In big cities, the company is testing a new service ( Amazon Prime Now ) that guarantees delivery within a couple of hours of purchase.

The metamorphosis is complete: Amazon enters the content market

Following the evolution of Netflix, Amazon has also thrown itself headlong into the world of original content production. Since 2014, the US company has presented several pilots and started the production of films and TV series to be broadcast on its online platform. Some TV series have won some Emmys and are trying to compete with the big national players and Netflix, further expanding Amazon’s turnover.

After having achieved excellent results in North America, Amazon has decided to launch its video streaming service in over 200 countries , including Italy. From 14 December 2016 it is possible to watch shows exclusively on Amazon Prime Video dubbed in Italian or in the original language with subtitles. The first thirty days are free, after which you need to subscribe to Amazon Prime at a cost of 19.99 euros (you will have access to both one-day shipping and exclusive content from the video streaming site). Among the great productions made available by Amazon, the user will also have the opportunity to see The Grand Tour , the new series starring Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, James May, the trio who made the television program Top Gear famous.

Amazon Dash also in Italy

The smart buttons developed by Jeff Bezos’ company, after making their debut in the United States, were launched in Italy on November 8, 2016 . The devices are very simple and promise to revolutionize the way you shop: each button allows you to order a product from the Amazon website (detergents, intimate hygiene products, pasta, biscuits) and receive it comfortably at home the next day . Payment for purchased items takes place directly through your profile on the e-commerce site . Instead, the Amazon Dash Buttons cost 4.99 euros. The operation of the smart buttons is quite simple: just connect the devices to the home Wi-Fi network and then set up your Amazon account to make purchases

Amazon Family and Amazon Go, the latest news from Jeff Bezos’ company

The two new services developed by Amazon are called Amazon Family and Amazon Go . The first is a service that allows users to buy discounted diapers, the second a new type of supermarket without checkouts. Amazon Family is very useful especially for young couples who don’t know how to deal with the purchase of diapers: in fact, Amazon stores the date of purchase and reminds users when to buy a new package.

Amazon Go, on the other hand, is the first supermarket without a cash register: the user enters the store using their smartphone and the final bill will be paid via their Amazon account. All very simple and effective. Amazon Go is ready to revolutionize the way you shop.

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