By John Divine

Amazon.com, Inc. (ticker: AMZN) does pretty much everything retail.

What started as an online bookseller quickly expanded into other product verticals like electronics, clothing and toys, and eventually morphed into an all-encompassing web store with virtually every legal product you can imagine. AMZN even helped put a few billion-dollar businesses – RadioShack, Borders and Circuit City being three of the most prominent – out of business along the way.

There’s arguably no other American company ever that’s been so successful in so many areas.

That’s not to say there haven’t been flops. Amazon Local, the Fire Phone and Amazon Destinations each failed; the Fire Phone arguably registered as one of the biggest tech flops of the last decade. Still, Amazon’s track record of success far exceeds its failures, and with a hard-charging billionaire intent on taking humans to Mars at its helm, Amazon investors and competitors alike should be prepping for its next ambitious business expansion.

Search. “When people are looking for products and they want to buy something, they’re already starting on Amazon.com, not Google (GOOGGOOGL),” says Phil Barrett, senior vice president and general manager of Purch.

Barrett believes that Amazon Alexa, the company’s AI-powered, voice-activated personal assistant, could become the Google Search of what he calls the “post-app” world.

Alexa products like the Amazon Echo and Amazon Echo Dot have been surprise hits for Amazon, and that, combined with Alexa’s ease of use and impressive functionality, makes Alexa a serious contender to be the search engine of the future, Barrett says.

Alexa is also an open platform for developers to add skills, enabling the assistant to become even smarter. In contrast, Siri had been closed to developers until very recently, and Google Assistant is only now commercially available in the Pixel phone.

“In the future it’s not gonna be Android vs iOS, it’s gonna be Alexa vs. Siri or Alexa vs. Google Assistant,” Barrett says. And that makes Amazon’s sizable head start in virtual assistants all the more valuable.

“That for me is potentially very scary for Google,” Barrett says.

Read the full article here: http://money.usnews.com/investing/articles/2016-10-21/amazon-com-inc-amzn-stock-next-industry

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