Jeff Bezos, the world’s richest man, has added another $20 billion (£14 billion) to his wealth after his firm Amazon reported its largest ever surge in profits.
Amazon sales increased by 38 per cent in the last three months of 2017, to more than $60.5 billion (£42.4 billion), according to its latest quarterly financial results.
For comparison, it took Amazon more than 14 years to make, cumulatively, as much profit as it did in the latest quarter alone.
The profits were driven by sales of its voice-activated Echo devices and an increase in the number of Prime members.
They were also helped by an increase in holiday shopping online and by Amazon’s cloud business, Amazon Web Services.
The surge in profits means Besoz is now worth more than $119 billion (£83 billion).
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Jeff Bezos, the world’s richest man, has added another $20 billion (£14 billion) to his wealth after his firm Amazon reported its largest ever surge in profits. The surge in profits means Besoz is now worth more than $119 billion (£83 billion)
Amazon sales increased by 38 per cent in the last three months of 2017, to more than $60.5 billion (£42.4 billion), according to its latest quarterly financial results. For comparison, it took Amazon more than 14 years to make as much profit as it did in the latest quarter alone
Having started life as an online shopping platform, the Seattle firm has become increasingly known for its hardware and software technology.
Its Amazon Echo line of smart speakers, which are powered by virtual assistant Alexa, have performed particularly well.
According to Amazon, the Alexa-enabled Echo Dot, along with the company’s Fire TV Stick streaming device, were the best selling products across all of Amazon in 2017.
Bezos also attributed the rise of of the company’s Alexa products as a key factor in the company’s continued growth.
He said: ‘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.’
The company introduced a range of new Echo devices in 2017, including a second generation Echo, as well as the smart home hub Echo Plus and the touchscreen-enabled Echo Show and Echo Spot.
Bezos added: ‘We’ve reached an important point where other companies and developers are accelerating adoption of Alexa.
Bezos said the rise of of the company’s Alexa products like the Echo (pictured) was a key factor in the company’s continued growth. The Alexa-enabled Echo Dot, along with the company’s Fire TV Stick streaming device, were the best selling products across all of Amazon in 2017
‘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.
‘Much more to come and a huge thank you to our customers and partners.’
Since launching the Echo in the US in 2014, Google has also entered the smart speaker space with their Google Home line of devices, powered by the Google Assistant.
Apple’s take on the gadget – the HomePod – goes on sale later this month.
Amazon’s success in expanding into new sectors and markets has made Bezos the world’s richest individual, and the last report suggests growth is accelerating.
Shares in Amazon jumped six percent in after-hours trade to $1,474 (£1,035).
One of the big profit centres for Amazon has been its cloud computing division called Amazon Web Services.
In the fourth quarter, AWS revenues were up 45 percent to $5.1 billion (£3.58bn) and the unit delivered an operating profit of $1.8 billion (£1.2bn).
For Amazon’s North American operations, following the acquisition of grocery chain Whole Foods, revenues rose 42 percent and the division posted an operating profit of $1.7 billion (£1.19bn).
The international operations saw an operating loss of $919 million (£645m) on revenues of $18 billion ($12.6bn).
Neil Saunders of the research firm GlobalData, said Amazon’s growth was impressive, with revenues up 28 per cent without counting Whole Foods.
‘Given this is above the trajectory of recent growth, it is safe to say that Amazon shows no signs of slowing down,’ Mr Saunders said in a note to clients.
‘Although Amazon has grown sharply, it is still nowhere near its potential.
‘There are categories, like home and apparel, where it is underpenetrated and with tweaks to its proposition should be able to make further gains.
‘There are markets around the world, like Australia, where Amazon is just getting started and has significant scope to boost sales.’
WHICH SMART SPEAKER SHOULD YOU BUY?
Gadget makers are flocking to create smart speakers.
Already Samsung has revealed plans for a Bixby speaker to take on Apple’s HomePod, Amazon’s Echo and Google’s Home.
Apple’s speaker will have a higher price tag than the Amazon Echo range, which begins at $49 (£49) for the Echo Dot.
The speaker will provide a hub for appliances via Apple’s HomeKit system and establish a centre inside the home to lock people in to using other Apple services, according to the report.
A speaker might help customers stay loyal to other services such as Apple Music, Apple Watch, Apple TV and AirPods.
Google’s $130 (£105) Home speaker is triggered by the phrase ‘Hey Google’ while Amazon’s Echo uses ‘Alexa’.
Amazon’s $50 (£40) Echo Dot puts the firm’s smart speaker in a small package
Amazon’s smart speaker is available in two versions – the full sized $180 (£145) Echo shown here, and a smaller, $50 (£40) version called the Echo Dot.
Amazon Echo uses Microsoft’s Bing search engine to provide additional information, while Google Home uses the company’s own Google Search.
Both Home and Echo are continually listening for commands, though Google and Amazon say nothing gets passed back to them until the speakers hear a keyword — ‘OK, Google’ for Home and ‘Alexa’ for Echo.
Google Home Mini: Google’s clever tech-filled $49 (£34) doughnut can do almosteverything its bigger voicecontrolledGoogle Assistantpoweredsibling can do,including answer questionsand control third-party devices.
Google’s Assistant software is also able to answer follow-up questions on the same topic, in a near-conversation style, but Echo as yet cannot.
However, Amazon’s Alexa software has a wider range of skills on offer that enable it to link up with and control more third-party devices around the home.
A light comes on to remind you that it’s listening.
You can turn off the microphone temporarily, too.