Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN) went live in 1995, and ever since, the Seattle-based company has systematically revolutionized the way people shop online. Its CEO and founder, Jeff Bezos, decided in 1994 that he would start the company to avoid looking back with regret a decade later over not capitalizing on the dot-com boom.
Though his launching of the business was random and impulsive, Bezos has since been methodical in building his brand. During the 21st century, Amazon has led the way on many technological fronts, including e-readers, online grocery shopping, digital music downloading and gaming. As of 2015, Amazon has a host of new technologies in its pipeline, working their way through various stages of development.
1. Amazon Dash Button
When Amazon announced its new Dash Button technology in late March 2015, the idea seemed so far-fetched that many took it as an April Fools' joke. The company had to issue a statement clarifying the device is real.
The Dash Button is a single-function controller, no larger than a pack of gum, that users place around the house. Each button corresponds to a household necessity, such as toilet paper, razors or trash bags. When the user is running low on a product and needs a restock, he pushes the appropriate dash button. The product, in the quantity preset by the user, soon arrives on his doorstep.
As of summer 2015, Amazon has already rolled the product out to selected Amazon Prime members.
Online grocery shopping dates back to the 1990s. Amazon, however, is the only company that has managed to achieve lasting success with this business model.
Its AmazonFresh subsidiary allows users in certain geographic markets to place grocery orders from the company's expansive inventory of fresh food. A truck then delivers the order the same day or, at the very latest, the next day.
The service launched in 2007, but it was limited to certain Seattle suburbs for many years. Since 2013, the subsidiary has been expanding quickly, first to Los Angeles, then to San Francisco and San Diego, and after that, New York City. In late 2014, AmazonFresh announced an expansion to Philadelphia.
3. Amazon Prime Air
In the near future, Amazon executives claim, customers could receive their orders in as little as 30 minutes – and the company won't have to break any speed limits or set up distribution centers in every neighborhood to make it happen.
The company's secret is unmanned aerial vehicles, also known as drones. While these devices remain shrouded in controversy, the company is optimistic that people will view drones that bring them things they want in a more favorable light than drones used for spying or deploying weapons.
4. Amazon Fire TV
Fire TV is Amazon's response to similar products from its competitors, such as Apple's Apple TV and Google Android's Roku. The product is gobbling up market share quickly – it accounted for over 30% of streaming TV box shipments for the first quarter of 2015.
Its versatility has garnered rave reviews from industry analysts: A Fire TV box streams live TV and allows users to watch hundreds of queued shows and movies, and it is also a popular and well-received gaming device.
5. Amazon Fire Phone
In June 2014, Amazon made its first push into the smartphone market with its launch of the Amazon Fire phone. The device runs the same operating system, Fire OS, as Amazon's popular Kindle Fire e-reader.
Fire OS offers users a host of unique and innovative features, such as Dynamic Perspective, which creates the appearance of depth and 3-D, and Mayday, a 24-hour customer service app. In addition, the phone's operating system is capable of downloading and running any app designed for Google Android.
For more on Amazon's business strategy, read How Amazon Competes With Google.