7. Amazon (AMZN)
Almost invisibly Amazon has boosted revenue nearly 30% this year to date, to $5.5 billion, behind a smaller, lighter, less expensive $139 Kindle e-reader and its store of more than 720,000 books -- including nearly 600,000 selling for less than $10 and not including 1.8 million free public-domain volumes.
Never mind Amazon's segmented sales categories such as Amazon Student and Amazon Mom that offer promotions, discounts and Amazon Prime free two-day shipping. Pay no attention to Amazon Web Services as it drops prices, adds usage tiers and incorporates tools from Oracle (ORCL) to help developers launch apps. The key to Amazon's continued success is constant upgrades and tweaks to its Kindle offerings, including the launch of two in-house publishing imprints and the cross-platform growth of Kindle apps for Apple, Research in Motion's BlackBerry and Google Android products. Amazon realized well before announcing it this summer that e-books were going to outsell hardcovers, but now that the gap has grown to nearly 2-to-1, it takes a clever company to increase its advantage in a digital media sector facing tough competition from Google and Apple.
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