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Summary:

The AWS machine just keeps roll, roll, rolling along as evidenced by Amazon’s fourth quarter earnings report.

AWS SVP Andy Jassy speaking at AWS re:Invent.
photo: AWS

Amazon’s overall numbers may have underwhelmed Wall Street, but it looks like Amazon Web Services continued its march toward world domination last quarter; although as usual, it’s sort of hard to see what’s really going on.

For the fourth quarter, the North America Sales “Other” category — which includes AWS — hit $1.17 billion, up 52 percent from $769 million for the year-ago quarter. For the full year, AWS (or other) hit $3.72 billion, up 58 percent from $2.35 billion

And here I must insert the usual disclaimer, per Amazon’s earnings report: This category “includes sales from non-retail activities, such as AWS sales, which are included in the North America segment, and advertising services and our co-branded credit card agreements, which are included in both segments.”

It’s hard to see any bad news here unless you look outside the AWS universe, where Google and Microsoft are building out prodigious public clouds of their own. AWS, launched in 2006, had the early-mover advantage and has reaped the rewards, but it also has some well-heeled rivals that seem intent on competing ferociously.

AWS has long lived under the shadow of the larger retail corporate entity, but last year, in a notable piece of hearsay, AWS SVP Andy Jassy said Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos thought that AWS could one day be the company’s biggest business.


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  1. Thank you for the great statistics, I think that now after the huge rise of eCommerce stores, the new trend in eCommerce emerges – the rise in online services selling – since services are also goods and can be bought online more conveniently, quicker and cheaper than offline. Plus on the web there’s no geographic distances

  2. I’m curious how much of that “other” revenue is advertising. They have a lot of data on user interests so can surely tap that for targeted advertising.

    1. that’s the billion-dollar question: How much of “Other” is something other than AWS.

  3. Revenue is great. But what is the profit for AWS look like. I hear mixed opinions. Thoughts?

    1. Amazon and profit in the same sentence. Hmm….

    2. Amazon prizes growth and market share over profits. Whenever new efficiencies are achieved, they pass those savings on to the customer as opposed to harvesting profits. Jeff Bezos famously said “your margin is my opportunity” and he means it. Wall Street may want profits and dividends, but they’re not gonna get it from Amazon since it would shift their strategy from aggressive growth.

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