Since it first went online in 1994, Amazon (AMZN) has become an e-commerce juggernaut and a cloud computing behemoth. It brought in $25.4 billion in its most recent quarter, up 23% year over year, and this week, Amazon shares hit an all-time high resulting in a market cap of $310 billion.
But since its beginnings as an online book store, the company has ventured into many different verticals. Some, like Amazon Web Services, its cloud computing business, have been hugely successful bets. Others, not so much...
The typical response from Amazon after shutting down a failed project is "We've learned a great deal from X and will look for ways to apply these lessons in the future as we continue to innovate on behalf of our customers."
One of the benefits of Amazon being so dominant in e-commerce includes the ability to say just that. Amazon can afford to experiment with all sorts of projects, even if many of them eventually fail. Most of the discontinued initiatives are side projects that could have potential, but stand second to the core business. Some of their bets succeed, but many don't. For Amazon, it's worth it to keep innovating and trying things out to make sure it's in on the next big things.
Here's a list of ten Amazon plays that didn't quite turn out like AWS or the Kindle.
1. Fire Phone
The Fire Phone is arguably Amazon's biggest flop. Amazon first released its smartphone in July 2014, but it just couldn't quite compete against iPhones and Androids. At one point Amazon tried selling it for 99 cents, and it still didn't work. Eventually Amazon wrote off a $170 million loss from the phone, and as of September, the phone was no longer available for purchase on Amazon.com.
This project was even shorter lived than the Fire Phone. This past April, Amazon decided to dive into the travel industry and sell hotel deals through a microsite called Destinations. On October 13, Amazon decided that dive wasn't working so well and shut it down.
3. Amazon Local
Amazon launched a hub for local deals back in 2011. The idea is similar to Groupon and LivingSocial, which have also been struggling. This October, Amazon announced that it would be shutting down Amazon Local on December 18.