Amazon Claims Holiday Victory

While brick-and-mortar retailers may be underwhelmed by holiday results so far, Amazon sure isn’t. The online retail giant, which is typically stingy with the numbers it releases to the public, says it signed up one million new Prime members in the third week of December. And, overall, it boasts that it had its best holiday season ever, with more than 36.8 million items ordered worldwide on Cyber Monday. That amounts to some 426 items per second, delivering gifts to some 185 countries.

The Seattle-based company also says that the Kindle’s new Mayday button is a hit, with an average response time on Christmas Day that was just 9 seconds, better than the 15-second goal it set for the new service.

The company says it also substantially increased its digital media offerings over the year, now providing over 27 million movies, TV shows, songs, magazines, books, audiobooks, apps and games. And its Prime Instant Video selections grew from 33,000 to more than 40,000 movies and TV episodes in 2013, bringing the total to 150,000. Its Kindle Owners’ Lending Library nearly doubled, from 250,000 books to 475,000 books. (Those book loans are free for those with Prime memberships, which cost $79 per year.) John Grisham’s “Sycamore Row” was the holiday’s top Kindle book gift. 

The company also launched an aggressive promotion for new device owners to further challenge Apple’s app dominance, rewarding anyone who downloaded an app or game from the Amazon Appstore for Android with a $5 credit. It’s giving all Amazon Appstore  customers a paid app for free every day. The freebies include such hits as “Angry Birds,” “Star Wars II” and “Where’s My Perry?” And it’s also running big sales in its Appstore, with discounts of between 50 and 90%.

Back in October, Amazon said it expected its fourth-quarter sales of between $23.5 billion and $26.5 billion, which would represent a gain between 10% and 25% compared with the fourth quarter of last year.

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