The following video is part of our "Motley Fool Conversations" series, in which Eric Bleeker, senior technology analyst, discusses topics around the investing world.

In this edition, Eric continues his review of how major tech companies performed in 2011. One company that had no shortage of storylines across the year was, which not only continued seeing strong growth and expansion of its e-commerce strength and cloud-computing momentum, but also took the wraps off its foray into the tablet market: the Kindle Fire.

What's interesting about Amazon is that the company saw earnings falling throughout 2011 despite huge sales increases. That's in large part because the company has been willing to aggressively price its Kindle e-readers and later Kindle Fire tablet to establish itself as a digital leader in addition to the leading online storefront. With Amazon now moving a million Kindles a week and reports of Amazon's production of Kindle Fires approaching 5 million units in the final quarter of 2011, that strategy looks to pay off, but not in a timeframe that might satisfy short-sighted investors on Wall Street.

Ultimately, 2011 looks to be the year where the blueprint for the next decade of Amazon's growth was laid out. It'll be:

  • A hybrid of Wal-Mart, a dominant retailer, but online …
  • Costco, through continuing tie-ins to Amazon Prime, which provides a recurring annual revenue stream …
  • And Apple: Through offering hardware that's vertically integrated with closed-in software.