I don’t know if Amazon Prime is Bezos’ secret weapon and the real driver of Amazon’s future profits, but it is a heck of a service. Amazon sales virtually everything you’d want to buy over the internet (and most of what you’d want to buy in stores). With Prime, I can have any of it in my hands in just two days. One day, if I’m willing to pay a premium of $4. You get the low price benefit of online shopping with nearly the same instant gratification as a brick and mortar.
I’m a Prime subscriber and will be for the foreseeable future.
“Most people think that Amazon is selling Kindle devices at cost in order to make a profit on the sales of books and movies. But if Amazon is also giving away a lot of media for free—4 of the Top 10 books in the Kindle Store can be had for free under the Kindle lending program—then what is its business model for Kindle?
Giving away the razor to make money on the blades is a well-known strategy. But giving away the razor and the blades in order to make money on a subscription loyalty program as a way to sell everything else? Is that Amazon’s real goal with the Kindle—is Amazon in the device business only to sell Prime subscriptions, which the company sees as a key accelerant for sales across the rest of its site?
…We don’t know where Amazon expects to make money from in the future. Indeed, we barely know where Amazon makes money from now. The company refuses to divulge even the most basic stats about its business. Amazon’s earnings calls are a comedy of opacity and misdirection; you’d have a better chance getting a guard at Buckingham Palace guard to crack a smile than to get an Amazon exec to accidentally tell you about the company’s business.
…But all this misunderstanding can’t be an unalloyed good. Amazon is so opaque, with so many mysterious businesses and revenue streams, that you’ve got to wonder whether the people who work there even understand what it’s up to. In business, simplicity often wins. Selling me a device to get me to buy a membership in order to get a book for free. Is Bezos crazy like a fox? Or is he just plain crazy? We have no idea.”