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Amazon.com(Amazon.com, Seattle, WA, www.amazon.com) The largest online shopping site in the U.S. and one of the most widely known e-commerce sites on the Web. Founded by Jeff Bezos in 1994, within four years, Amazon had more than four million customers, and that number has subsequently grown to more than 250 million.
From a Bookstore to Nearly Everything
Amazon started out as an online bookstore, constantly making news with its product volume. In the late 1990s, after adding CDs, videos, DVDs and games, Amazon offered more than four million titles. It continued to add new lines of business including toys, consumer electronics, software, power tools, home improvement products, online auctions and datacenter services, the latter a huge profit center for the company (see EC2). By opening up its e-commerce platform to non-Amazon vendors in 2000, nearly every legal product that can be shipped is available on Amazon.com.
In 2005, Amazon's Prime subscription offered free two-day shipping and lower one-day rates. Prime membership increasingly offers other benefits, including unlimited video and music streaming, photo storage and e-book lending.
Amazon's Own Products
In the late 2000s, the company began to offer Amazon-branded items, including e-book readers, tablet computers, smartphones and other devices (see Kindle, Kindle Fire, Fire Phone, Amazon Echo and Amazon Dash).