To our shareowners:
I’m so proud of what all the teams here at Amazon have accomplished on behalf of customers this past year. Amazonians around the world are polishing products and services to a degree that is beyond what’s expected or required, taking the long view, reinventing normal, and getting customers to say “Wow.”
I’d like to take you on a tour that samples a small subset of our various initiatives, ranging from Prime to Amazon Smile to Mayday. The goal is to give you a sense for how much is going on across Amazon and how exciting it is to work on these programs. This broad array of initiatives is only possible because a large team of talented people at every level are exercising their good judgment every day and always asking, how do we make this better?
Ok, let’s get started on the tour.
Customers love Prime. More than one million customers joined Prime in the third week of December alone, and there are now tens of millions of Prime members worldwide. On a per customer basis, Prime members are ordering more items, across more categories, than ever before. Even internally, it’s easy for us to forget that Prime was a new, unproven (some even said foolhardy) concept when we launched it nine years ago: all-you-can-eat, two-day shipping for a flat annual fee. At that time, we had one million eligible Prime products. This year, we passed 20 million eligible products, and we continue to add more. We’ve made Prime better in other ways too, adding new digital benefits – including the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library and Prime Instant Video. And we’re not done. We have many ideas for how to make Prime even better.
Readers & Authors
We’re investing heavily on behalf of readers. The all-new, high-resolution, high-contrast Kindle Paperwhite launched to rave reviews. We integrated the very impressive Goodreads into Kindle, introduced FreeTime for Kindle, and launched Kindle in India, Mexico, and Australia. Bringing joy to air travelers, the FAA approved the use of electronic devices during takeoff and landing. Our public policy team, with the help of many allies, worked patiently for four years on this, at one point loading a test plane with 150 active Kindles. Yes, it all worked fine!
Joining CreateSpace, Kindle Singles, and Kindle Direct Publishing, is the new service Kindle Worlds, the literary journal Day One, eight new Amazon Publishing imprints, and the launch of Amazon Publishing in the UK and Germany. Thousands of authors are already using these services to build fulfilling writing careers. Many write and tell us how we have helped them send their children to college, pay off medical bills, or purchase a home. We are missionaries for reading and these stories inspire and encourage us to keep inventing on behalf of writers and readers.
Prime Instant Video
Prime Instant Video is experiencing tremendous growth across all metrics – including new customers, repeat usage, and total number of streams. These are output metrics and they suggest we are on a good path, focusing on the right inputs. Two of the key inputs are the growth of selection and the desirability of that selection. Since we launched PIV in 2011 with 5,000 titles, we’ve grown selection to more than 40,000 movies and TV episodes – all included in your Prime membership. PIV has exclusives on hundreds of sought after TV seasons including Downton Abbey, the ratings blockbuster Under the Dome, The Americans, Justified, Grimm, Orphan Black, Suits, and kids programs such as SpongeBob SquarePants, Dora the Explorer, and Blue’s Clues. In addition, our Amazon Studios team continues to invest heavily in original content. Gary Trudeau’s Alpha House, starring John Goodman, debuted last year and quickly became the most-watched show on Amazon. We recently greenlit six more originals, including Bosch, by Michael Connelly, The After, from Chris Carter ofThe X-Files, Mozart in the Jungle, from Roman Coppola and Jason Schwartzman, and Jill Soloway’s beautiful Transparent, which some have called the best pilot in years. We like our approach and are replicating it with our recent rollout of PIV in both the UK and Germany. The early customer response in those countries has been terrific, surpassing our expectations.
Just this past week, after two years of hard work, our hardware team launched Fire TV. Not only is Fire TV the best way to watch Amazon’s video offerings, it also embraces non-Amazon content services like Netflix, Hulu Plus, VEVO, WatchESPN, and many more. Fire TV has big hardware specs in a category that’s previously been hardware-light. It shows. Fire TV is fast and fluid. And our ASAP technology predicts what you might want to watch and pre-buffers it, so shows start instantly. Our team also put a small microphone in the remote control. Hold down the mic button on the remote, and you can speak your search term rather than type it into an alphabet grid. The team has done a terrific job – the voice search actually works.
In addition to Prime Instant Video, Fire TV gives you instant access to over 200,000 movies and TV episodes available a la carte, including new releases like Gravity, 12 Years a Slave, Dallas Buyers Club, Frozen, and more. As a bonus, Fire TV also lets you play high-quality, inexpensive games on your living room TV. We hope you try it out. If you do, let us know what you think. The team would love to hear your feedback.
Amazon Game Studios
It’s early in the twenty-second century and Earth is threatened by an alien species, the Ne’ahtu. The aliens infected Earth’s energy grid with a computer virus to disable the planet’s defenses. Before they could strike, computer science prodigy Amy Ramanujan neutralized the alien virus and saved the planet. Now, the Ne’ahtu are back and Dr. Ramanujan must prevent them from launching an all-out invasion on Earth. She needs your help.
That’s how Sev Zero, the first Fire TV exclusive from Amazon Game Studios, begins. The team combined tower defense with shooter gameplay and created a co-op mode where one player leads on the ground with their gamepad controller while a second player provides air support from a tablet. I can assure you that there are some intense moments when you’ll appreciate a well-timed air-strike. When you see it, you may be surprised that this level of game play is possible on an inexpensive streaming media device. Sev Zero is only the first of a collection of innovative and graphically beautiful games we’re building from the ground up for Fire tablets and Fire TV.
The Amazon Appstore now serves customers in almost 200 countries. Selection has grown to include over 200,000 apps and games from top developers around the globe – nearly tripling in size over the past year. We introduced Amazon Coins, a virtual currency that saves customers up to 10% on app and in-app purchases. Our Whispersync for Games technology lets you start a game on one device and continue it on another without losing your progress. Developers can use the Mobile Associates program to offer millions of physical products from Amazon inside their apps, and earn referral fees when customers buy those items. We introduced Appstore Developer Select, a marketing program that promotes new apps and games on Kindle Fire tablets and on Amazon’s Mobile Ad Network. We created Analytics and A/B