Peter Kafka

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Amazon Makes Murmurs About Its Video Business

amazon videoNetflix added a bunch of streaming video subscribers in the last quarter. How did rival Amazon do?

Who knows? Amazon is fiercely dedicated to the notion that it won’t say squat about its business, and things stayed true to form during yesterday’s earnings call.

But the question did come up a few times during the call. Which makes sense, because Jeff Bezos is pumping a bunch of money into video — by Netflix CEO Reed Hastings’s account, perhaps a billion dollars a year.

So Amazon CFO Thomas Szkutak did make a point of telling Wall Street that things are moving up and to the right — both in terms of usage and investment dollars. A collection of his video-related quotes, via Seeking Alpha:

  • “The percentage of Prime customers who were watching free content through Prime Instant Videos has gone up dramatically year-over-year.”
  • “We have also increased Prime membership dramatically, year-over-year. They are also purchasing a paid content. Those customers that are using this, they watch free but they are also paying for new content which is great.”
  • “I can’t give you specific for attach rates but the business is making good progress on the video content side. Again it’s still very early.”
  • “We will continue to expand our selection, both in terms of Amazon Instant Video as well Prime Instant Video and we will do that in a number of different ways. We think we have a very interesting selection right now and you should expect that will be spending more on content as it relates to Prime over time. We will continue to add selection on the Instant Video. Beyond that, you have to stay tuned.”

In other words: Yes, we’re spending a bunch of money. And yes, based on outsiders’ guesstimates, we’re way, way, way behind Netflix in terms of overall video streaming usage. But we think our “spend now, earn later” strategy is going to pay off here, too.

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Another gadget you don’t really need. Will not work once you get it home. New model out in 4 weeks. Battery life is too short to be of any use.

— From the fact sheet for a fake product entitled Useless Plasticbox 1.2 (an actual empty plastic box) placed in L.A.-area Best Buy stores by an artist called Plastic Jesus