Amazon reports 20% growth as Jeff Bezos hails Alexa

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Amazon reported a rise in revenue and profits for the last quarter, as the tech giant published its latest set of financial results.

For the three months up to December 31, the e-commerce firm said net sales were up by 20% on this time last year, rising from 60.5 billion US dollars (£46.1 billion) to 72.4 billion dollars (£55.2 billion).

The company’s profits for the quarter were also up, reaching three billion dollars (£2.2 billion), compared to 1.9 billion dollars (£1.5 billion) this time last year.

Amazon founder and chief executive Jeff Bezos – also the world’s richest man – was in little doubt what was driving the company’s growth as he singled out virtual assistant Alexa as a key performer.

Harrison Ford pokes fun at ‘failed’ Amazon Alexa devices in Super Bowl ad

“Alexa was very busy during her holiday season. Echo Dot was the best-selling item across all products on Amazon globally, and customers purchased millions more devices from the Echo family compared to last year,” he said.

(Amazon/PA)
Amazon’s smart speakers remain the market leader (Amazon/PA)

“The number of research scientists working on Alexa has more than doubled in the past year, and the results of the team’s hard work are clear.

“In 2018, we improved Alexa’s ability to understand requests and answer questions by more than 20% through advances in machine learning, we added billions of facts making Alexa more knowledgeable than ever, developers doubled the number of Alexa skills to over 80,000, and customers spoke to Alexa tens of billions more times in 2018 compared to 2017.”
Jeff Bezos

“We’re energised by and grateful for the response, and you can count on us to keep working hard to bring even more invention to customers.”

Amazon’s line of Echo smart speakers that house artificial intelligence-powered Alexa remains the market leader in the sector and earlier on Thursday the company unveiled a special advert for the upcoming Super Bowl, featuring Hollywood stars Harrison Ford and Forest Whitaker interacting with the virtual helper.

Chris Price
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