By: Grace Zhang
Started in 1994 as a marketplace for books, Amazon has quickly grown into one the most powerful companies in the world, being one of the Big Four tech companies. But while we mostly know it as an ecommerce giant, Amazon has infiltrated almost every aspect of our lives, ranging from entertainment to groceries to fashion. This article compiles some of the lesser known services offered by Amazon and their less famous subsidiaries to demonstrate just how giant Jeff Bezos’ empire has really become.
- Prime Wardrobe’s Personal Shopper
Hate shopping? Well Amazon’s got your back. For a small fee, Amazon will assign you a personal stylist who chooses 8 pieces a month for you to try on, based on a style quiz you fill out before trying the service.
Acquired by Amazon in 2009, Zappos is an online clothing retailer primarily known for selling shoes.
A live streaming site. Though most content is focused on video gaming and esports, there is a large variety of content on the site. Currently they average 15 million active users everyday.
- Amazon Wag
Amazon’s very own pet product brand. They even have their own brand of dog food (they’re coming for your pets too).
A home security and smart home company. Their home security cameras are linked to a mobile app and allow users to upload footage to an online community. They also provide data to law enforcement on request.
- Amazon Artisans
Sells homemade products from artisans all over the world. Sounds contradictory? That’s because it is.
- Amazon Wickedly Prime
A special collection of foods and beverages exclusively for Prime Members.
- Amazon Your Garage
Recommends parts and products after receiving information about your cars and other vehicles. Also offers tips and advice from other users.
An online database of entertainment, ranging from movies to video games, as well as their featured actors, directors, writers, etc.
An online community where users discuss books and catalogue their personal libraries.
While this was meant to be a quick and fun read, I would like to pose a serious question. Should we worry about how giant corporations have become in the status quo? The items presented here are an EXTREMELY abridged list of services and companies that Amazon has. Are we giving them too much power? What happens when Amazon dominates every sector of society, every industry? Will all competition be eliminated? Will we lose all the benefits of our free market system? This might seem like a doomsday scenario, but the truth is we’ve already seen it happen. Small businesses are routinely crushed by the costs and burdens or competing with a multinational corporation like Amazon, and by allowing Amazon to essentially have a stake in every industry known to man, we increase this damage tenfold. Even on their own website, sellers still have to compete with the brand itself, who is able to display their products on the first page without having to pay for any of the extremely high costs of advertising, a price tag a small creator would never be able to afford. Should we be afraid of returning to the capitalism of the Gilded Age, rife with worker exploitation and unfair business practices? Or, even worse, are we already there?
However, the threat they pose is much more far-reaching than merely the concept of capitalism. The truth is in our society, technology is playing a larger and larger role in our everyday lives, and while this isn’t a bad thing, this kind of lifestyle requires huge amounts of data. Shopping at Amazon and using their services allows them to collect information on us and we agree, hoping it will make our lives better, but do they really need to know what car we drive, what clothes we wear, what books we read, etc.? While this information may seem harmless, what happens when it falls into the wrong hands? We’re lucky to live in a democratic society that protects free speech and the like, but what if things take a turn for the worse? Suddenly information like what books you read are suddenly weapons against. This should come as no surprise, after all we have entire federal agencies dedicated to collecting intelligence, only now the internet has essentially done their jobs for them. Just imagine how useful Ring camera footage could be, and all that data is potentially sitting in the hands of Amazon right now. The reality is that personal privacy continues to diminish everyday, thanks to tech companies like Amazon, potentially placing us on a slippery slope to an autocratic surveillance state.
But why am I saying all this? Amazon isn’t inherently bad and arguing that it’s done nothing but evil would be foolish. Our current pandemic and economic crisis would be infinitely worse without ecommerce. However, we fail to realize the consequences our online activities can have, but it’s not too late. By paying a little more attention and fighting to maintain our right to privacy, this terrible future can be prevented and hopefully this short list has helped open your eyes just a little more.