Amazon forecast net sales will grow between 34% and 42% year-on-year in the current quarter to between 51 billion and 54 billion US dollars, boosted by a favourable impact of approximately 1.2 billion dollars or 320 basis points from foreign exchange rates.
In the first quarter of 2018, Amazon increased sales 39% year-on-year on an constant currency basis to 51 billion dollars in the first quarter. Amazon Web Services (AWS), the cloud computing business, generated a 49% increase in sales on a reported basis.
In a letter to shareholders, CEO Jeff Bezos revealed Amazon Prime now has more than 100 million paid members globally, 13 years after it was first launched. "In 2017 Amazon shipped more than five billion items with Prime worldwide, and more new members joined Prime than in any previous year – both worldwide and in the U.S.," he added. "Tens of thousands of customers are also using a broad range of AWS machine learning services, with active users increasing more than 250% in the last year, spurred by the broad adoption of Amazon SageMaker."
Bezos also said there are now more than 30,000 skills for Alexa (Amazon's voice controlled personal assistant) from outside developers, which can control more than 4,000 smart home devices from 1,200 brands. He added that Amazon has improved Alexa’s spoken language understanding by more than 25% over the past 12 months through "enhancements in Alexa’s machine learning components and the use of semi-supervised learning techniques. (These semi-supervised learning techniques reduced the amount of labeled data needed to achieve the same accuracy improvement by 40 times)."
The letter to shareholders also noted that Amazon Music now has tens of millions of paying customers. "Amazon Music Unlimited, our on-demand, ad-free offering, expanded to more than 30 new countries in 2017, and membership has more than doubled over the past six months," Bezos wrote.
Sources: Bezos letter to shareholders and Amazon statement