Amazon plans to rule retail with AI
Amazon executives said that the company's investments in voice-based devices, which are powered by an artificial intelligence platform referred to colloquially as “Alexa,” are its No. 1 opportunity.
The comments came as Amazon, the world's largest online retailer, reported first quarter results in which sales rose 23 percent to $35.7 billion, just beating analysts' average estimate of $35.3 billion. More fees from Amazon's Prime shopping club and media streaming services, along with growing advertising revenue, boosted results.
Amazon says it is stepping up investments from a year ago. It plans to build new warehouses and create more than 130,000 full-time and part-time jobs by mid-2018 to speed up delivery.
Net sales increased 23% to $35.7 billion in the first quarterended March 31, compared with $29.1 billion in first quarter 2016. Excluding the $492 million unfavorable impact from year-over-year changes in foreign exchange rates throughout the quarter, net sales increased 24% compared with first quarter 2016.
Operating income decreased 6% to $1.0 billion in the first quarter, compared with operating income of $1.1 billion in first quarter 2016.
Net income was $724 million in the first quarter, or $1.48 per diluted share, compared with net income of $513 million, or $1.07 per diluted share, in first quarter 2016.
“Our India team is moving fast and delivering for customers and sellers. The team has increased Prime selection by 75% since launching the program nine months ago, increased fulfillment capacity for sellers by 26% already this year, announced 18 Indian Original TV series, and just last week introduced a Fire TV Stick optimized for Indian customers with integrated voice search in English and Hindi,” said Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder and CEO. “We’re grateful that customers are responding — Amazon.in is the most visited and the fastest growing marketplace in India. It’s still Day 1 for e-commerce in India, and I assure you that we’ll keep investing in technology and infrastructure while working hard to invent on behalf of our customers and small and medium businesses in India.”
The company forecast sales for the second quarter of between $35.25 billion and $37.75 billion, which includes an unfavorable impact of about $720 million from foreign exchange rates.