Prime, Alexa power stellar Amazon performance

Prime, Alexa power stellar Amazon performance

Amazon has announced a record breaking fourth quarter, racking up $60.5 billion in net sales, a year-on-year increase of 38%. Net income hit $1.9 billion, significantly more than the $1.83 expected by financial analysts.

The e-commerce giant signed up more new Prime customers in 2017 than any previous year — both worldwide and in the US. It added over four million members in one week alone during the last quarter. Last year, five billion-plus items shipped with Prime worldwide. The stellar performance sent the company’s shares soaring 6% in after-hours trading on Thursday.

Changes to US tax law added $789 million to its bottomline (because if anyone needs a tax break, it’s Amazon, right?) Other highlights included Amazon Go opening to the public in Seattle, following a nearly 14-month trial involving employees at Amazon’s HQ. The checkout-free store taps the same types of tech used in self-driving cars, computer vision, machine learning, and sensor fusion. It had been set to open to the public early last year but Amazon announced a delay, claiming excessive demand from its employees. Rumours, however, abounded that the system was struggling to track everything once there were more than 20 people in-store. There were also problems monitoring some items when they were moved from their designated spots. 

Alexa was also a star performer, with "tens of millions" of Echo devices flying out of the door last year. “Our 2017 projections for Alexa were very optimistic, and we far exceeded them. We don’t see positive surprises of this magnitude very often, expect us to double down,” says Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder and CEO. “We’ve reached an important point where other companies and developers are accelerating adoption of Alexa. There are now over 30,000 skills from outside developers, customers can control more than 4,000 smart home devices from 1,200 unique brands with Alexa, and we’re seeing strong response to our new far-field voice kit for manufacturers."

Amazon expects net sales for Q1 2018 to range from $47.75 billion and $50.75 billion, reflecting projected growth between 34 and 42%.

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