The evolution of Amazon
- Amazon announced its "frustration-free packaging" initiative in 2008. The company made efforts to do away with oversized plastic containers that necessitated both scissors and accidental bloodshed to open, replacing them with tear-open wallets and easily accessible boxes.
- The first Kindle was only available in the US, and retailed for a hefty $399, but still managed to sell out in 5 1/2 hours. Its design was quickly rounded in future models, but both the keyboard and the page-control buttons remained in place for subsequent iterations. (brewbooks / Flickr)
- The Kindle DX looked markedly similar to the second generation Kindle, but its wider body, smaller bezels, and shrunken keyboard afforded the device a larger screen than before. The DX launched in 2009. Another version of the model, the DX Graphite, came a year later.
- Amazon started offering grocery delivery through AmazonFresh in August 2007, but the service spent six years confined to select neighborhoods in Seattle. In 2013, Amazon widened its delivery areas to include Los Angeles and San Francisco.
- The fourth generation Kindle made do without a keyboard. It was smaller in the hand, and a much smaller hit on the wallet, retailing for $79 with ad support. The next model, the Kindle Touch, removed almost all of the device's buttons. Users instead relied on a touch screen.
- Amazon bought robotics firm Kiva Systems in 2012, and with it, a fleet of orange shoe-shaped robots. The robots are capable of collecting and carrying shelves of goods around the firm's many warehouses.
- The 7-inch Kindle Fire didn't stack up incredibly well against other tablets of a similar size in terms of features, but it was cheap. The Android-powered device retailed for $199, a price low enough to make buying into Amazon's ecosystem a worthwhile decision for many consumers.
- Customers in cities such as New York, Washington DC, London, and Amazon's hometown of Seattle can choose to have their products delivered to lockers in selected convenience stores. Packages must be small enough to fit in, but the service is designed to avoid missed deliveries.
- The Kindle Fire HDX's Mayday button connects users with Amazon's customer service department. The average response time is less than ten seconds, but it's not always used for genuine technical problems: operators have reportedly been asked to sing happy birthday to customers.
- A huge Amazon locker appeared in San Francisco earlier this year. It was the subject of much speculation, before the ruse was revealed — the locker housed a giveaway, sponsored by car manufacturer Nissan. The winner would receive a truck in an Amazon box.
- Fire TV is Amazon's attempt to challenge cable-TV monopolies in the US by pushing its huge catalog of movies, TV shows, and games onto living room TVs. Fire TV supports apps such as Netflix, but as with most of the company's products, it works best with content purchased from Amazon itself.
- Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos took to TV late last year to promise his company would soon start using drones to deliver packages. The FAA doesn't currently have guidelines for such a fleet of unmanned aerial vehicles, but Amazon says it expects the rules to be in place by 2015.