Amazon reported exemplary first-quarter results yesterday, driven in part by the company’s burgeoning web services arm.
But founder/CEO Jeff Bezos used the opportunity to brag instead about his proprietary Fire and Echo devices.
Following a year-ago net loss of $57 million, the e-tailer came roaring back in typical see-saw fashion with profits of $513 million for the three months, ended March 31, on net sales of $29.1 billion, a 28 percent spike.
This time Amazon was firing on all cylinders: in North America, net sales of electronics and other general merchandise, the company’s catchall products classification, increased 32 percent, to $13.5 billion, on top of a year-ago gain of 31 percent, while net sales of media were up 8 percent to $3.2 billion.
But the real star of the show was the Amazon Web Services (AWS) unit, whose net sales rocketed 64 percent, to $2.6 billion, on top of the year-ago quarter’s 49 percent gains.
Of particular note, operating income for this business was $604 million, exceeding the $588 million garnered by the North American retail operation.
Bezos has projected that AWS could become a $10 billion enterprise, and the unit is already well on its way toward making Amazon less a retailer than a diversified conglomerate.
But rather than tout that business in his accompanying statement, Bezos focused on his private-label tech products, which he said remain the top-selling items on the site.
Specifically, Fire tablets doubled in sales quarter over quarter, he crowed, and just this week the Fire TV Stick became the first product on Amazon to pass 100,000 customer reviews — 62 percent of which awarded the $39 streaming HDMI plug-in five stars, he said.
And what of Echo? “Echo too is off to an incredible start,” he added, “and we can’t yet manage to keep it in stock despite all efforts.”