Most impactful company in 2011: Amazon

The company that is touching most of our lives most deeply this year is Amazon.

Amazon's first office

Looking back at 2011 it is clear that a number of companies have impacted my life, but none greater than Amazon. The company that Bezos built has reached deeper into what I do and how I do it than any other company, and on multiple levels. While companies that build gadgets are important to me and especially my work, Amazon reaches across all of them in fundamental ways that impact nearly everything I do.

Amazon has become a major player in the mobile space, with Kindles including the recently released Kindle Fire. This position in mobile is just beginning, as Amazon may become one of the two top tablet makers next year. The Amazon mobile ecosystem is second to none, but that's only part of why it is touching so many of our lives.

Prior to the rise of Amazon in retail and the mobile space, like most consumers I spent a lot of time online and in brick and mortar retail stores. I did a lot of my research of mobile gear by visiting stores and trying to find the next big thing. I literally wasted untold hours doing the "let's see what's new" thing.

Then came Amazon and everything changed. Now I rarely, maybe just a few times a year, go into stores to check out new gear. I can find out everything I want to know about gadgets in five minutes on the Amazon web site, and conclude the search with a simple purchase if desired. Amazon Prime gets anything to my door in two days tops, and without charge. One-click buying is now my primary method for acquiring gear and accessories for whatever I might be looking for.

Amazon has impacted my favorite hobby in an even greater fashion. I have always been a voracious reader, and since the launch of the Kindle and its ecosystem everything has changed for me. The ability to read virtually any book on any mobile device I own is liberating. Having Amazon keep track of my bookmark and open the current book I am reading at the proper spot on any gadget is the tech that most regularly touches me.

Even greater than the convenience Amazon brings to my reading is what it does for my shopping for books. In just a few minutes, either on gadgets or online through a browser, I can peruse thousands of titles that might interest me. I can find just the right book in any genre, and with one click not only buy the book but have it pushed to my default reading gadget. The next time I open the Kindle app there it sits, flagged as a new book for my convenience.

On top of outstanding online resources, Amazon knows retailing better than any other company. This is evident regularly in email I receive from the company recommending things that actually interest me. These recommendations are based on my continuing patronage, and frequently are things that indeed catch my eye. On visits to Amazon online I am also presented items of possible interest, unobtrusively so they don't get in my way. Amazon learns from me and makes future shopping visits better for me.

There is not a single company that has impacted my life more than Amazon this year, and that will surely keep happening in the future. The company keeps adding goods and services that interest me, and makes it easy for me to discover them, buy them, and then consume them. At my leisure, 24/7. It is no wonder brick and mortar retail is on the ropes.