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Why Amazon Is The World’s Most Innovative Company Of 2017

Source | FastCompany : By NOAH ROBISCHON

Picture your ideal neighborhood. What does it look like? Is it manicured, with buildings set in a pattern so that everything flows together, designed for perfection? Or is it gritty and spontaneous, the kind of place where a restaurant might move into the space that used to house a dry cleaner? Boxes bearing the Amazon logo can arrive at doorsteps in either of these environments, of course, but Amazon’s founder and CEO, Jeff Bezos, prefers the second type.

“I think neighborhoods, cities, and towns that have evolved are more interesting and delightful than ones that have been carefully top-down planned,” he tells me when I meet him at Amazon’s Seattle headquarters in November. “There’s just something very human” about them, he says.

It’s a surprising answer from a man known for his disciplined adherence to Six Sigma–style processes and data-driven decision making. But it’s also revealing. Over its nearly 22 years, Amazon has moved into one sector after another and gentrified it, even if that meant tearing down its own existing structures. Amazon’s Echo smart speaker rose on the lot where its Fire Phone flamed out. The latest version of Amazon’s streaming music service, Amazon Music Unlimited, was constructed on top of its initial music store, Amazon MP3, which opened nine years ago. Amazon Studios’ Emmy Award–winning original TV shows are built upon a crowdsourcing platform that the company first introduced in 2010 for aspiring scriptwriters. Even the company’s fashion business—Amazon is now the second-largest seller of apparel in the U.S., according to Morgan Stanley—evolved from brand experiments in outdoor furniture (2004), home goods (2008), electronic accessories (2009), diapers (2014), and now perishables such as organic, fair-trade-certified coffee.

Unlike Apple, Google, and Microsoft, Amazon is not fixated on a tightly designed ecosystem of interlocking apps and services. Bezos instead emphasizes platforms that each serves its own customers in the best and fastest possible way. “Our customers are loyal to us right up until the second somebody offers them a better service,” he says. “And I love that. It’s super-motivating for us.” That impulse has spawned an awesome stream of creative firsts. Just this past year, Prime Video became available in more than 200 countries and territories, following the November debut of The Grand Tour, Amazon’s most-watched premiere ever. Twitch, the streaming video-game network that Amazon acquired in 2014, unveiled its first three original titles from its recently formed studios. Amazon invested millions in startups that will build voice-control apps for the intelligent assistant Alexa and give her thousands of new skills. The company opened two dozen new fulfillment centers, became the largest online store in India, and made its first delivery by autonomous drone in the United Kingdom.

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