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Amazon Prime membership climbs 53%

Worldwide paid membership of Amazon’s Prime subscription service grew 53% last year – 50% in the US and faster outside the States – according to the e-retail giant.

Speaking on Amazon’s fourth quarter earnings call, chief financial officer and senior vice president Tom Szkutak, said that Prime membership was growing on a “sizeable base” of “tens of millions”, and is a focus area for the company.

Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos said: “When we raised the price of Prime membership last year [from US$79 to US$99 per year in the US], we were confident that customers would continue to find it the best bargain in the history of shopping. The data is in and customers agree.

“Prime is a one-of-a-kind, all-you-can-eat, physical-digital hybrid — in 2014 alone we paid billions of dollars for Prime shipping and invested US$1.3 billion in Prime Instant Video. We’ll continue to work hard for our Prime members.”

Amazon’s Prime offering varies slightly by market, but in the US, UK and Germany includes unlimited instant streaming of movie and TV titles with Prime Instant Video – along unlimited unlimited one-day delivery of physical items and online photo storage.

Amazon did not break out the exact sign-up numbers for Prime – it has never done – but did say that it is at an “earlier stage” internationally and that the number of Prime members there was smaller relative to the US.

Overall in the quarter ended December 31, Amazon reported sales of US$29.3, compared with US$25.6 billion in Q4 2013. Operating income was $591 million in Q4, up from $510 million a year earlier. However net income was down, coming in at US$214 million compared to US$239 million in Q4 2013.