Steve Jobs. Bill Gates. Mark Zuckerberg. These names have a certain ring to them accompanied by visions of piles of cash, iPhones, Windows operating systems and Facebook accounts. Jeff Bezos doesn’t quite have that same ring to it. But it will. After watching Bezos’ recent Keynote presentation, I’m convinced that Bezos could well be the next Steve Jobs.
I’ve watched almost every Steve Jobs WWDC Keynote for the past few years, and I love his presentation style almost as much as the products he unveils. Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon.com, doesn’t quite have the magical presentation style that Jobs does, but he did one hell of a job unveiling the new Kindle devices and spelling out the future of Amazon on Wednesday.
For those of you now too familiar with the genus entrepreneur behind Amazon.com, Jeff Bezos grew up in Texas and graduated from Princeton. He moved to New York after graduation and got several different jobs in finance, eventually becoming VP at a successful firm specializing in the application of computer science to the stock market. By this time, the mid 90’s, the Internet wasn’t used to for e-commerce, but Bezos had an idea. According to his biography on the Academy of Achievement website, Bezos saw that Internet usage was increasing by 2,300% a year, and he knew there were new opportunities that he could capitalize on.
He looked at the top 20 mail order businesses of the day to see if any of them would be more efficient using the Internet. He realized that books were a commodity that could be sold on the Internet, because there were too many of them to ever put in one catalog. A huge database of books could be put on the Internet and reach a limitless audience, a perfect opportunity for Bezos. He immediately flew to LA for a bookseller’s convention and proceeded to learn everything he could about the industry. He came up with the idea of Amazon.com, but his employers weren’t prepared to help him. So he decided to quit his job and move to Seattle to start the website by himself.
Amazon was started in Bezos’ garage in Seattle in 1994. He initially told 300 of his friends about the company and asked them to spread the word. Within a month, with no press, Amazon.com had sold books in all 50 states and 45 foreign countries. Within three months, it had sales of $20,000 a WEEK. Bezos and his team continued improving the site, introducing such unheard-of features as one-click shopping, customer reviews, and e-mail order verification. Then they started selling more than just books. Now, Amazon is the world’s largest online retailer, with revenue of over $34 billion in 2010 and over 30,000 employees. Not to mention Bezos is worth $19.1 billion.
But Bezos didn’t stop there. Fast-forward a few years and Amazon is now MUCH more than just a website. Amazon offers more products and services than you know. They got into cloud computing early, and they are now competing in the cloud industry with the likes of Microsoft, Google and HP… and winning. They launched the Kindle book reader a few years ago and changed the landscape of book reading forever. Kindle has gotten phenomenal reviews, and according to ITB, Amazon has sold over 17 million of the devices, and they now sell more e-books than print books.
Fast-forward again to last Thursday and Amazon is expanding even more. Bezos announced the new Kindle Fire.
Kindle Fire is an iPad-like device that lets you download books, movies, music and apps instantly. It also stores ALL of your media on Amazon’s cloud for FREE. This means you can delete any content off the Kindle, such as a book you are done reading, and then instantly re-download it if you want to read it again, because everything’s stored on Amazon’s cloud. This also means that all your content auto-syncs with all your devices, such as your PC and phone, wirelessly and instantly. And… it’s only $199. The Kindle Fire will allow users to experience all of Amazon’s services, just like Apple has done. This includes Amazon Web Services (cloud), Amazon Prime (subscription service), Amazon Instant Video, Amazon MP3 Store, the Amazon App Store, as well as Amazon’s brand new browser, Amazon Silk. Silk is a revolutionary new browser, built from the ground up specifically for tablets and mobile devices, rather than PC’s.
Amazon is growing rapidly, and will soon be integrated into people’s lives just like Apple and Google are now. They have invested billions in their products, software, infrastructure, and services, and their strategy is beginning to pay off. Who knew a bookstore would transform into such a competitor in the retail, cloud computing, tablet, and online media markets, all at once?
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