Amazon turned 25 last week, and while the life so far of the internet’s biggest shop hasn’t been without its controversies, it has also contributed some pretty stonking stuff to the world of tech.
Here, in no particular order, are six of our favourites (and one Bezos and co would probably rather forget).
After music had gone digital in the late ‘90s, it only made sense for books to be next. The Kindle was Amazon’s first tech product, and while the original was laughably massive, only available in the States and looked like something NASA would’ve given astronauts in the ‘80s, the range has evolved to include waterproofing, backlit screens and audiobook compatibility.
It’s fair to say not everybody was convinced by the Amazon Echo when it was first unveiled in late 2014. Apple’s Siri had hardly changed the world, so who needed a haunted Pringles tube that could tell you what the capital of Peru is? Five years later, though, and Alexa is everywhere, controlling your lights, ordering your Friday night takeaway and making calls to other Echos. Oh, and in case you’re wondering, it’s Lima.
Before Amazon Prime came along the thought of being able to order something online and have it delivered later that day would’ve seemed like a pipe dream, certainly without forking out a fortune. Even if you don’t live somewhere where same-day delivery is available, the next-day option is speedy enough for most people, plus you get Prime Video, Music and Reading thrown in as well.
When it comes to cheap, no-frills tablets, you can’t beat a Kindle Fire. Sure, they lack the finesse and creative flair of an iPad, and the app store isn’t anywhere near as well stocked, but for bigger-screen browsing on a budget there’s really no better bet. Perhaps the best deal, though, is the Kids Edition, which includes a two-year ‘they break it, we’ll replace it’ guarantee. Handy if your sprog is showing signs of having a successful career in the demolitions industry when they’re older.
With its own Netflix rival in the shape of Prime Video, it was only a matter of time before Amazon added a set-top box of some sort to watch it on. The first Fire TV box launched in 2014 and it’s gone through a number of iterations ever since, with all the tech now squeezed into a space-saving stick that plugs straight into an HDMI port. And with its Alexa-powered remote, you can use it to control your smart home kit too.
The worst thing about going shopping is having to queue up at the checkout to pay, so in 2018 Amazon got rid of that bit. Amazon Go stores use cameras and sensors to work out what you put in your basket as you walk round, before charging your account when you leave. They currently only exist in Seattle, New York, San Francisco and Chicago, which is a long way to go just to avoid standing in a queue, but it’s a concept we very much hope spreads wider sooner rather than later.