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I'm Barbara Klein with the VOA Special English Economics Report.
On July 16th 1995, a new bookstore opened in the American city of Seattle. No one steps inside to buy anything. Yet, the store, if you could call it that, had sales last year of 7000 million dollars. Ten years ago, few people bought things over the Internet. Few thought it was safe. Amazon.com changed many people's minds.
Ten years later, an estimated seven out of ten American adults have used a computer to buy something. Market researchers at ComScore Networks estimate online spending last year at 117,000 million dollars. That was for goods and travel services. The person who started Amazon, Jeff Bezos remains its leader. In the 1990s, he urged employees to help Amazon get big fast. Yet, Amazon invested in many similar businesses that failed. Amazon lost plenty of money. It did not make a profit until 2003. Its most recent profit and earnings report released last week was better than many market watchers had expected.
Today people can buy not just books and music but also many other products through Amazon. It competes with eBay, which celebrates its 10th birthday in September. eBbay calls itself "the world's online marketplace". It does not sell anything. Instead, it provides a way for others to sell goods and services. People who want to buy something make competing offers through online auctions. eBay has grown to include several other businesses. These include Paypal, a company that processes online payments.
As online sellers grew, traditional stores saw the future. Today, stores from the smallest to the biggest sell on the Internet. These include the biggest of all, Wal-Mart. Finally, we reported on the offer for the American oil company Unocal from CNOOC limited of Hong Kong.
This week, CNOOC withdrew its offer because what it called the political environment in the United States. Opponents raised national security concerns. The Chinese government owns 70 percent of CNOOC. CNOOC had offered 18500 million dollars for Unocal. Now, Unocal shareholders will vote Wednesday on an earlier offer from Chevron. The American company has offered to buy Unocal in a deal worth about 17,000 million dollars.
This VOA Special English Economics Report was written by Mario Ritter. I'm Barbara Klein.