Amazon.com Owns Just About Everything Now

7/27/09

“Earth’s biggest bookstore,” boasted Amazon.com in the early days after its 1995 launch. Nearly 15 years later, Amazon seems more like Earth’s biggest store, period. Music and movies, videogames, clothing, toys, furniture, even food, it’s all just a few clicks away. And with last week’s acquisiton of online retailer Zappos.com (originally estimated at $850 million, now believed to be about $920 million with the changes in stock price), there seem to be no real rivals to Amazon’s dominance of online retail.

Rather than competing with established companies in a retail sector it wished to expand into, Amazon often has purchased one or more of the possible rivals and absorbed them into itself. While some erstwhile rivals have simply been outcompeted, a chart created by Meet the Boss (see below) shows how Amazon has gobbled up rivals almost since it began. And even with tax and legal troubles, Amazon shows no sign of slowing down, having already bought more companies, six, in 2009 than in any other year except 1999 when it bought 14 different companies.

Over the years, Amazon seems to have focused on one area of online retail at a time to acquire companies in—like major audio book company Audible, bought in 2008, just months after it bought Brilliance Audio, another important audio book firm. And Amazon keeps an eye on other general online retailers. Zappos may be the big news this year, but Talk Market, an online boutique, is under the Amazon umbrella too. And now that it owns e-book company Lexcycle, as well as picture product matcher Snaptell, and other next-gen technology companies that once competed with it, Amazon’s place as king of Internet retail seems more secure than ever.

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Eric Hal Schwartz was an intern in Xconomy's Seattle office. Follow @

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