Amazon grew from online bookstore to one of the biggest companies on the planet

Amazon began life as an online bookstore, first launching in 1995.

Since the early days the website has been prone to fast growth, with sales rising above $20,000 a week within two months of launch.

This growth saw the firm, which Jeff Bezos first created in his garage, expand into other items and soon the company established itself as the market leader in online stores.

Having become the world's largest online retailer - selling everything from CDs to food and toys - the company has turned its attention to electronics software and hardware in recent years, becoming one of the biggest companies on the planet in the process.

Amazon's first venture into the area of consumer electronics was still rooted in books - its Kindle eReader launched in 2007 and new generations of the device remain on sale today.

According to reports, the Kindle business is still worth several billion dollars a year to Amazon.

Since then the firm has expanded into tablets through its line of Fire devices, which remain popular low-price alternatives to the iPad.

The company also launched its own smartphone - the ill-fated Fire Phone - in 2014, however the device was a critically panned, and Amazon discontinued the phone in 2015.

Amazon has had more recent success with its Echo line-up of smart home speakers as it moves into the world of software, most notably machine learning and artificial intelligence.

Driven by the company's AI-powered, voice-activated assistant Alexa, the devices can be used to control other internet-enabled appliances in the home, as well as answer questions users ask.

The Alexa assistant now rivals Google's own Assistant as well as Apple's Siri and Microsoft's Cortana.

The company also runs Amazon Web Services (AWS), the on-demand cloud-computing platform which has become a vital cog in the structure of the internet.

Customers include Netflix, Airbnb and Spotify among many other billion-dollar companies.

The company is now also working on physical stores known as Amazon Go - which use automation and mobile device software to automatically charge customers' Amazon accounts, removing the need for checkouts.

The first store is planned to open to the public this year.

Having risen from an online book store, Amazon's most recent financial results saw the company report sales of more than $35bn for the quarter.


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