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Amazon is always one step ahead

Symbol for Amazon Prime
Photo: Ant Palmer/Getty Images

Amazon is an iceberg: People only see what's above the surface. Meanwhile, underneath, the company just keeps expanding.

Why you'll hear about this again: This has proven true time and time again. When people thought of Amazon as a bookstore, it was already on its way to being an e-commerce giant. When all people saw was an e-commerce giant, Amazon was well on its way to being a marketplace and web services provider.

Amazon Prime — with its expansion into video and music services and its moves into brick and mortar — has been similarly underestimated, though people have at least learned to fear what the company might be up to next.

Here are a couple of new data points suggesting how huge the Amazon iceberg has grown — and where it's headed:

  • After years of being vague about numbers, Amazon confirmed Tuesday that there are 100 million Amazon Prime subscribers. That means they have managed to convince a huge swath of the U.S. population to sign up. (Amazon didn't break out how many of the Prime subscribers were in the U.S. vs. international.)
  • Amazon struck a deal with Best Buy that will see the electronics chain carry televisions with Amazon's Fire TV built in. Now, fast forward a few years and which seems more likely — that this headline will come back to haunt Amazon when Best Buy takes over the online electronics business or that Amazon will get the last laugh?
  • Amazon is announcing today "blueprints" for Alexa, a way for home users to easily create their own quizzes and games for Echo and other devices. Again, some looked at the Echo and saw a smart speaker, where Amazon has quietly built an entirely new operating system.

Go deeper: Axios business editor Dan Primack and I went back and forth about Amazon's size and strength in a video earlier this year.

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