Amazon may have surprised Wall Street by how much sales went up in the fourth quarter of last year ($29.3 billion, with a profit of $214 million), but for customers its Prime service is the big deal. Founder and CEO Jeff Bezos said Prime membership in the US grew by 50 percent last year, despite a price hike. That growth probably explains (and helps justify) the expanding number of services it’s tacked on to what was originally just an offer of free / cheap shipping. According to Bezos, Amazon plowed $1.3 billion into Prime Instant Video alone in 2014, snapping up exclusives, content from HBO and creating award winning programming like Transparent.
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Of course, since this is Amazon there’s no exact number of Prime subscribers revealed, but the company apparently spent “billions” on shipping for the program. The company’s Fire phone didn’t seem to merit much discussion, but for now Wall Street is happy and customers keep clicking that Buy button, so why rain on the parade?