Amazon has more than 100 million Prime members, the company revealed for the first time in a letter to shareholders from founder CEO Jeff Bezos that was released Wednesday.
The disclosure provides a more precise glimpse into Prime, a subscription service that provides two-day shipping on items purchased via Amazon and access to a massive streaming library of licensed fare and original series. Amazon
“13 years post-launch, we have exceeded 100 million paid Prime members globally,” Bezos noted in a string of recent Amazon milestones, adding that Amazon has shipped more than 5 billion items with Prime worldwide.
Though it’s not an apples-to-apples comparison due to the differences in what comes with each type of subscription service, Netflix ended Q1 with 125 million subs worldwide, and Hulu ended 2017 with more than 17 million (including both SVOD and Hulu’s newer live TV service).
Amazon introduced a standalone video streaming service that sells for $8.99 per month about two years ago, but hasn’t broken out how many are taking that offering.
Bezos did note that Prime Video remains a key retention driver for the Prime service, and that its Prime Video Direct service secured subscription video rights to more than 3,000 feature films in 2017.
Amazon hasn’t shed a lot of light on video streaming usage, but Reuters reported in March that about 26 million U.S. Prime subs streamed shows and movies as of early 2017.
Bezos also proclaimed 2017 as the best year yet for Amazon hardware sales, as customers bought “tens of millions” of devices, with Echo devices and the Fire TV Stick (both with Alexa built in) the best-selling products across all categories and manufacturers.
“Customers bought twice as many Fire TV Sticks and Kids Edition Fire Tablets this holiday season versus last year,” he added.
Alexa, meanwhile, now supports more than 30,000 “skills” from outside developers and can control more than 4,000 smart home devices from 1,200 unique brands, Bezos explained.
Amazon Web Services, meanwhile, is a $20 billion revenue run-rate business, Bezos wrote.
In the spirit of showing how far Amazon has come, Bezos also tacked on a shareholder letter from 1997, noting then that Amazon had served 1.5 million customers by the end of that year, while revenues surged 838%, to $147.8 million. Amazon's net sales for 2017 clocked in at $177.9 billion, up a mere 31% year-over-year.
Bezos also labeled that time as “Day 1 for the Internet” and later touted “many important strategic partners” that included America Online, Yahoo!, Excite, Netscape, GeoCities, AltaVista, @Home and Prodigy, companies that have since been acquired, are shadows of their former selves, or just flat out gone.