The year is 1998 and during a reportage trip to Seattle I visit the headquarters of the relatively newly started online bookstore Amazon. It’s sandwiched between a dry cleaner and an artist cafe in the city’s porn district, and international manager Dean LaRue shows me around a business in its infancy. He tells, for example, how his employees often call the authors’ homes to ask them to collect books from the basement…
In the twenty years that have passed since my reporting trip, I have heard repeated rumors that the company is going to establish itself in Sweden, but it is only now that I believe that they are true. Several experts expect a Swedish launch in 2018.
The signs are many. Amazon has bought land in three strategically important locations in Sweden’s logistics center Mälardalen – and according to the news site Breakit, the company is negotiating with several media companies for advertising space. They have also bought off the Swedish domain name Amazon.se for an estimated price of a couple of million kroner.
A Swedish launch would in many ways turn our way of shopping upside down – because Amazon in 2018 is so much more than an online bookstore. The company has grown into a gigantic shopping empire that shakes up market after market:
Books. Amazon has pushed American book prices so hard that many authors believe literature is being impoverished. The same thing can of course happen in Sweden – for better or for worse.
E-books. In the US, Amazon’s Kindle reading tablet has become synonymous with e-books. When they start selling Swedish titles, we can count on a boost for e-books here as well.
Read more: How well the Kindle passes our test
Home electronics. Amazon is a giant when it comes to technology and a Swedish establishment would shake up both online stores and electronics stores. Above all, because Amazon is expected to deliver from Germany – and thus avoids Sweden’s chemical tax.
Food. In the US, Amazon delivers food to your door. A Swedish launch would both affect our rigid grocery market – and our way of buying fast food.
Video. Amazon’s video service Prime Video admittedly scored poorly in our test last year, but it definitely has the potential to challenge Netflix and Viaplay.
Music. Amazon’s music service has just been launched in Sweden, which in the long run could threaten Spotify’s dominant position when it comes to music.
But Amazon’s real trump card is the smart speaker Alexa, and it is hardly a coincidence that it has just been launched in Sweden. Alexa, which is connected to all Amazon services, can receive voice commands. In other words, soon you will be able to sit at home on the sofa and control your music, order a pizza or buy a pair of headphones – just with the help of your voice. It is this simplicity that in the long run can completely change the way we shop.
I think it’s only a matter of time before the Amazon River washes over Sweden. And I am convinced that it affects us all.