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How Amazon Keeps Cutting AWS Prices: Cheapskate Culture 146

Posted by timothy
from the mining-the-couch-for-change dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Amazon Web Services has cut its prices on 40-plus consecutive occasions, at times leading the charge, at other times countering similar moves by Microsoft and Google. This article at CRN includes some interesting behind-the-scenes trivia about how Amazon keeps costs down, including some interesting speculation — for example, that perhaps the reason Amazon's Glacier storage is so cheap is that maybe it might be based at least partly on tape, not disk (Amazon would not comment). The article also explains that the company will only pay for its employees to fly Economy, and that includes its senior executives. If they feel the need to upgrade to Business or First Class, they must do so from their own pocket. And instead of buying hardware from an OEM vendor, AWS sources its own components – everything from processors to disk drives to memory and network cards — and uses contract manufacturing to put together its machines."
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How Amazon Keeps Cutting AWS Prices: Cheapskate Culture

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 15, 2014 @10:17AM (#46756259)

    Unless you work in finance, oil/gas or certain luxury markets and have money to burn you're flying economy no matter what industry you're in. It's not being cheap, it's being smart. You're stil going to get to the same place at the same time as the other passengers.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 15, 2014 @10:18AM (#46756271)
      Some people do not enjoy travel and upgrading them is one way to encourage them to do it more often.
      • by rtaylor (70602)

        That is the airlines problem.

        The more workarounds a person finds for not travelling (calls, emails, etc.) the less the cost to the ticket buying company; assuming they manage to keep productivity the same.

      • by fermion (181285)
        Some people don't enjoy work and paying them more might get them to work on time or to work the whole day. Or you could just fire them and hire someone who has an understanding that they have agreed to do a job for a rate of pay.
        • Some people don't enjoy work and paying them more might get them to work on time or to work the whole day. Or you could just fire them and hire someone who has an understanding that they have agreed to do a job for a rate of pay.

          Oh really? Alright I can play your game: those people have agreed to do a job that involved standard office hours. Travel means being asked to sit in a cramped aeroplane for many hours and give up their evenings and potentially weekends to do their job. By your own measure, work travel spreads outside normal work hours, so making it comfortable is hardly an unreasonable request. Just because an employee asks for something doesn't mean they should be fired over it.

          • by MrKaos (858439)

            Some people don't enjoy work and paying them more might get them to work on time or to work the whole day. Or you could just fire them and hire someone who has an understanding that they have agreed to do a job for a rate of pay.

            Oh really? Alright I can play your game: those people have agreed to do a job that involved standard office hours. Travel means being asked to sit in a cramped aeroplane for many hours and give up their evenings and potentially weekends to do their job. By your own measure, work travel spreads outside normal work hours, so making it comfortable is hardly an unreasonable request. Just because an employee asks for something doesn't mean they should be fired over it.

            Precisely. Will I be paid for the weekends and evening I don't have with my family, friends or activites and will they. What about when they fly employees over weekends and expect them to be fresh and shiney Monday morning after being stuck in aircraft and airports over the weekend.

            It's a fucking tax deduction anyway, fly me business class and I may have a hope of being productive on Monday and the rest of the week. It's false economy to spend the money to send someone around the world just to have them to

      • To be frank with you, I like me not enjoying travel and wouldn't consent to anyone trying to upgrade me with a travel-enjoying brain module.
    • by wienerschnizzel (1409447) on Tuesday April 15, 2014 @10:39AM (#46756469)

      You're stil going to get to the same place at the same time as the other passengers.

      Not in the same shape though.

      It might not impact you much if you are going to one conference, but if you fly to multiple destinations within a week, it will build up. Your back/joint pain, stress level, lack of sleep will show. It might mean that you will save 5k on the boarding passes of your exec but then pay millions for the bad decision she makes.

      • by DuckDodgers (541817) <keeper_of_the_wo ... m minus caffeine> on Tuesday April 15, 2014 @12:52PM (#46758165)
        Or lose her because she quits to work for a company that has less travel.
      • by tlhIngan (30335)

        You're stil going to get to the same place at the same time as the other passengers.

        Not in the same shape though.

        It might not impact you much if you are going to one conference, but if you fly to multiple destinations within a week, it will build up. Your back/joint pain, stress level, lack of sleep will show. It might mean that you will save 5k on the boarding passes of your exec but then pay millions for the bad decision she makes.

        It doesn't have to be multiple flights. Just one is enough - let's say you

    • Yeah I was kind of thrown off by them using the loaded term cheapskate. I would call that efficiency or austerity. Everyone was complaining that they were assholes when companies were flying around in private jets while at the same time laying off employees. Now we complain that they are cheap if they make their employees fly in coach with the rest of us proles.
      • Three comments:
        1. 1) Companies don't fly around in jets, people do
        2. 2) People don't fly around in private jets, executives do
        3. 3) We're still calling those executives that fly around in private jets assholes
    • by danbert8 (1024253)

      I work in the oil/gas industry, and the rule is you are flying economy unless the flight is over 8 hours. We have to negotiate with supervisors to spend extra money to take a direct flight instead of wasting hours on connections and layovers...

    • by mapuche (41699)

      If you travel a lot for business there's a chance you have to fly for half a day or even more hours, sign a contract, shake hands and return home the same or next day. Using business class is the best way to arrive fresher for you meeting and make good decisions. For me doesn't make much sense to pay business for a less than 4-5 hours flight, but that's just me.

      • by Triv (181010)
        Yeah, that's WAY more efficient than establishing the relationship in advance and just Fedexing the document back and forth once it requires a signature.
    • by mccalli (323026)
      Smart for who? Not for the employee.

      Unless flying regularly is clearly stated in your contract (and I mean regularly, not 'you may be asked to travel from time to time'), the company is inconveniencing you over and above your normal duties, and causing actual discomfort in the case of many economy flights. You ask for decent standards or refuse.

      I'm astonished to see so many people defend this. For flights of two or three hours, fine. For anything longer - absolutely not.

      Cheers,
      Ian
      • Seems like it is pretty standard to fly economy. Even in the industries the parent poster listed, policies tend to be economy except for international flights and executives.

        Thing is...if you fly often for work, you will reach status within a year and be getting upgraded on every flight. The monday-thursday consultants and other heavy business travelers are getting their upgrades for free...the fees are usually being billed to the client, and clients don't like to pay for first-class.

    • by epyT-R (613989)

      Try flying economy from the USA to china. If you expect your employee to be functional the moment they leave the airport on the other side, you'll fly them business at least.

    • by PPH (736903)

      It's not being cheap, it's being smart.

      I used to fly a lot when I worked for Boeing (commercial, not gov't contract). We had an entire travel department that arranged trips and accomodtions. And they prided themselves on finding the cheapest (crappiest, that is) deals that they could. One time, when I had to fly from Seatle to New York, I just called travel and said, "You find me the flight that meets your cost requirements. I'll upgrade to first class out of my own pocket." They practicaly shit themselves. It wasn't about the cost, it was about

    • by Pembers (250842) on Tuesday April 15, 2014 @12:45PM (#46758069) Homepage

      You're stil going to get to the same place at the same time as the other passengers.

      True, but you have a nicer seat with more room, and everything before and after the flight runs faster and smoother. You have your own check-in desk and security line, so you can arrive at the airport an hour later than the economy-class passengers. You have a bigger baggage allowance, so you might not have to put anything in the hold - and if you do, it'll probably come off the plane first. All that can make the difference between a day trip and an overnight stay, or turn a trip of n days into n-1 days.

    • by n7ytd (230708)

      I was once upgraded to "business class" on a flight from Madrid to Malaga Spain. As far as I could tell, the luxury afforded to the business traveler was being served my water in a glass rather than the paper cups given to the row behind me.

    • by bloodhawk (813939)
      I have worked for several of the largest IT companies over the past 30 years, I think only once have I ever travelled business class out of the companies pocket, and even then it was because I was travelling with government clients who get Business Class for overseas trips. economy or more likely DISCOUNT economy is standard for just about all companies, Business class is a luxury very few companies provide, So I would have been far more amazed if the article said they allowed it.
    • by Balthisar (649688)

      Or, well, you get to silver, gold, platinum, or diamond and then get promoted to business class 90% of the time for the price of a coach ticket.

    • If you are in Canada around 80% of First/Business class will be populated by something government flavored. So actual government people (especially politicians), government funded companies such as the CBC, government granted monopolies (Emera/NSP), or companies that thrive doing government work such as politically connected advertising agencies.

      When I was in the consulting world I often had to fly at the last moment so paid full fare economy, so by being polite while checking in I often was bumped to fir
      • Conversely, US Government travel is always economy, and government contract fare seats are often the least desirable seats available (rear-rows, bulkheads, and middle). Although, rental cars are usually intermediate, not economy, and hotel per diem usually lets you stay somewhere pretty decent, though never luxurious. Altogether it's actually pretty reasonable for the tax payer and the traveler--however, the paperwork is still a nightmare!

  • Economy Class Only (Score:5, Informative)

    by CohibaVancouver (864662) on Tuesday April 15, 2014 @10:19AM (#46756281)
    The requirement of 'no business class' for air travel isn't unique to Amazon. Every tech company I've worked for had the same policy - From the senior execs on down.

    Thankfully, the company I work for now doesn't require red-eye flights. So I can arrive at a destination, sleep overnight in a hotel bed, then wake up the next morning and start working.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      When I interviewed with Intel, I was told that they own (or maybe charter, I can't remember) their own planes to send people around. I thought it was cool, but they said they were often referred to as sardine cans. Tightly packed, very little space.

      • by binarylarry (1338699) on Tuesday April 15, 2014 @10:28AM (#46756371)

        Little planes can also be scary as fuck.

      • by bsane (148894) on Tuesday April 15, 2014 @10:45AM (#46756505)

        They have (had?) regular flights between their west coast locations, you just show up and take a seat. I don't know that they fly charter flights anywhere else on a regular basis. It also wasn't unique to Intel, HP used to do something very similar.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 15, 2014 @11:04AM (#46756703)

        I fly those planes regularly to get between Intel sites. The experience is infinitely better than commercial flights.
        1) You go via smaller airports, or a separate terminal. No bilking for parking, stupid busses etc.
        2) Walk in, wave your badge, get on plane. 5 minutes.
        3) It's economy sizes seats, but they have a power socket.
        4) Yes you do sit next to the execs.
        5) You drop your bag on the trolley going out. It's on a trolly on the tarmac when you get out the other end
        6) No one is going to steal expensive things from your bags.
        7) No assigned seating. Get on, find a seat, sit down.
        8) It costs Intel a lot less to fill its own plane than to pay commercial rates.

        The downside is they are popular and so it's hard to get seats at short notice.

    • by BonThomme (239873) on Tuesday April 15, 2014 @10:47AM (#46756533) Homepage

      And I'm sure if you ever actually flew with one our your senior execs, you'd be mystified why you can't find them in the coach section...

      • by CohibaVancouver (864662) on Tuesday April 15, 2014 @11:55AM (#46757423)

        And I'm sure if you ever actually flew with one our your senior execs, you'd be mystified why you can't find them in the coach section...

        A couple of years ago I flew back from Mobile World Congress (Barcelona) in economy class. An Intel exec was seated next to me and an IBM exec was across the aisle.

      • by PTBarnum (233319)

        Right, because they fly enough that they can get free uprades on almost every flight, or worst case they can afford to pay for the upgrade out of pocket.

    • I can see this for domestic flights, but I'd be pretty annoyed if it were true for international flights.

    • by whoever57 (658626)

      The requirement of 'no business class' for air travel isn't unique to Amazon.

      In large companies this may be really "no purchased business class seats", except that the company will buy for senior execs the most expensive economy seats and then get free upgrades for them because of the volume of travel bought by the company.

  • by slashmydots (2189826) on Tuesday April 15, 2014 @10:19AM (#46756285)
    Or it's their unbelievable number of screw ups that ended up in downtime making people not respect them.
  • by Overzeetop (214511) on Tuesday April 15, 2014 @10:20AM (#46756287) Journal

    We're supposed to be surprised that everyone is supposed to fly coach?

    And, if you're custom rolling your backend at the scale of AWS, I wouldn't expect anything *but* sourcing yourself. Outsourcing is for organizations that don't have the expertise in house and want a finger to point if things go wrong. Vertical integration is more cost efficient if you have the scale to make it work.

    • Flying from LA to Chicago or Seattle to Phoenix? Sure. Economy's just fine.

      From NYC to Shanghai? Dallas to Rio? Anywhere to Honolulu or Juno?

      More than 4 hours on a flight and pay the outrageous fees. your sanity will thank you for it.

    • For certain services, commoditization makes it very unlikely that your internal organization will be able to compete in cost/quality ratios with specialized service providers. Example: Banks used to manage all aspects of their networking due to downtime impact, nowadays redundant providers can deliver networking with adequate SLAs (contractual, penalised) at lower cost than their internal staff, are there any banks that still lay their own fiber?

  • Cheapskate? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Tuesday April 15, 2014 @10:21AM (#46756305) Journal
    Doesn't 'cheapskate' have a somewhat perjorative connotation, either edging into 'stingy' (if talking about spending on socially normative things) or 'penny wise, pound foolish' (if talking about good sense in short and long term cost/benefit thinking)?

    From what the article decribes, Amazon isn't so much 'cheapskate' as operating perfectly sensibly given their scale, cutting unnecessary (but usually bundled) components, and not giving in to poorly justified; but commonly assumed, habits like sending Important Employees to fly business class.

    I can understand why they would be scaring their competitors pretty seriously; but I'm not sure that I see the 'cheapskate' bit.
    • People here are forgetting the costs associated with flying senior (ie expensive) people around. There is an argument that if you are billing a client for three figure sums a day, you had better ensure that the person flying arrives in good shape so they can work straight from the flight. Sending people coach can be a false economy.
      • by azadrozny (576352)

        I have seen many comments like this, but I think there are a lot of what-if scenarios to consider. Is it necessary for that person to work straight from the flight? It could be cheaper to fly them in the night before, and pay for an extra night in the hotel. Is this person expected to work while on the plane? If not, all that extra space mat not be necessary. How often is the person expected to travel? If this employee is hopping around the country, especially for a multi-city trip, perhaps the upgrad

    • by cusco (717999)

      I've noticed that one thing that they are NOT skimping on is security, either physical or network. No one gets anywhere in any facility worldwide without controls, even Chinese and US government officials. I'm actually quite impressed with their degree of organization and adherence to (generally well thought-out) policies.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Amazon, in its majestic equality, requires both code monkeys and senior executives to pay for their own upgrades.

  • AWS is NOT cheap (Score:5, Informative)

    by afidel (530433) on Tuesday April 15, 2014 @10:25AM (#46756343)

    AWS is expensive, I can provide the equivalent of an m3.large reserved instance to my users for 1/4th the cost over 3 years, if you ammatorize my infrastructure over 5 years (which is what we've actually been doing) then it's almost 1/7th as much. The only places where AWS makes sense is if you're a quickly growing startup, have a VERY bursty workload, or you're so small that you can't justify 3 hosts for a VMWare Essentials bundle.

    • That's assuming everyone is paying the sticker price. Larger customers can negotiate better rates with Amazon.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Agreed, AWS is defintely not cheap by cloud standards. I recently did some cloud price comparisons and Amazon had, by far, the most expensive offerings. In some cases, where relatively small workloads were involved, services like Azure were half the price of AWS.

    • by rebelwarlock (1319465) on Tuesday April 15, 2014 @10:43AM (#46756491)

      I also provide hosting. Give me money instead.

      Fixed that for you.

    • There are a lot of workloads where it makes sense. If you are doing research and you only need to use a lot of computing resources for a few weeks out of the year to run simulations or something, then it is much more economical to go AWS than have a giant cluster sitting idle most of the time.
    • by cusco (717999)

      I don't doubt that **YOU** can provide the equivalent of x, y and z, but very few SMBs have that talent available. Is it worthwhile for a (for example) physicians' clinic to pay AWS, or cough up the money for staff/contractors to manage their cloud infrastructure? Hard call, and how many doctors can adequately judge whether the people that they're paying are competent?

    • It's the scaling. If you have fixed resource requirements, set up your own servers in a good colocation somewhere. If you usually run with X server capacity but a few times a year or more you need 5X or 10X, go with AWS (or Google, Microsoft, Rackspace, DigitalOcean, etc.... )
    • AWS is expensive, I can provide the equivalent of an m3.large

      Oh, excellent! I need to analyze 5PB of data in a 1000 node Hadoop cluster, which I'll need for about a week. I'll need to start the analysis in 3 days. It's a bit of a last-minute rush job. What would you charge me for that?

      What? You can't provide that infrastructure at any time at any price? Oh, rats. I guess I'll just have to use AWS.

    • by Mabhatter (126906)

      the money is that enterprise level setup to do a "Cloud" with backups, redundancy, and all the licenses (or employees that can work at that level) is easily 7 digits... before you're even putting your BUSINESS on it. For a startup that's literally paying bills as they cash checks a few thousand up front for access to a multi-million dollar setup isn't that bad.

  • Walmart on the web (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Amazon has always been about low costs. It's why I love them as a customer, but ran the other way after interviewing for a job there. Their offices (at least the ones I saw in a Seattle tower) were dirty and dingy. I'm kind of a neat freak, and don't like that kind of atmosphere at home, so I could not handle the idea of tolerating it every day at work.

    • by wonkey_monkey (2592601) on Tuesday April 15, 2014 @10:38AM (#46756459) Homepage

      You do not want to know what I'm doing right now.

    • by azadrozny (576352)

      Amazon is not doing anything new. Walmart has had this general philosophy for a long time. Good or bad, they have been squeezing every cent out of their supply chain, using the power of their distribution centers to keep their costs low. I recall reading somewhere that their CEO occupies the same modest office that Sam Walton used, and it does not get lavishly redecorated often (if ever). At least they are passing the savings on to the customer.

      • by cusco (717999)

        Unlike Wally-world, Amazon is not fucking over its employees at every opportunity. Amazon employees make enough that they don't qualify for food stamps, much less need them to survive. Amazon employees have actual benefits. Amazon employees have actual insurance. Amazon doesn't take out 'dead peasant' life insurance policies on its employees either. Even the much-pitied fulfillment center temps are treated better than the best WalMart employee.

  • by cryptizard (2629853) on Tuesday April 15, 2014 @10:37AM (#46756453) Homepage

    perhaps the reason Amazon's Glacier storage is so cheap is that maybe it might be based at least partly on tape, not disk

    That is one of the stupidest things I have ever read. Of course it is using tape, why else would it take up to 24 hours to get your data when you request it? Everyone knows that is the whole point of Glacier, and the reason they can offer it so cheap. Nobody wants to deal with the hassle of having their own offsite tape library, so Amazon will do it for you with a convenience user interface. That is literally exactly what all of AWS is based on, doing something cheaper for you because they have the expertise and the facilities at scale.

    • could be blueray (Score:4, Interesting)

      by schlachter (862210) on Tuesday April 15, 2014 @11:20AM (#46756937)

      It could also be blueray disk based. Not as likely as tape based, but could be cheaper/faster at scale.

    • by PPH (736903)

      Yeh, but duct tape?

  • by slashkitty (21637) on Tuesday April 15, 2014 @11:42AM (#46757243) Homepage
    AWS services are NOT cheap at all when compared to running dedicated servers. With a little bit of load balancing, you can have a much faster, more reliable, cluster for a fraction of the price. Currently, I rent quad core machines for about $60 a month. That works out to $0.08 / hour. AWS charges $0.56 for a comparable speed service. It's not just that they can lower prices, they have to to compete with the real world.
    • Your maths is off. $60 a month is $0.16 / hour (* 12 / (365.25 * 24)).

      Also you're using AWS wrong, if you're comparing a by the hour price, with a contract price elsewhere. If you take AWS 1yr contract pricing, then the m3.xlarge will set you back $127pcm or $81 if you commit to 3yrs.

      Sure it's more expensive, but not the orders of magnitude more that you claim. AWS is probably not cost-effective for a single box, but that's not the real use-case for cloud computing. If your workload is burstable, then o

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Ignoring costs for persistent storage and network traffic (which will not be negligible, by the way), an EC2 m3.2xlarge Heavy Utilization Reserved Instance in N. Virginia costs $2691 up-front (for a 3 year agreement; i.e., getting the best possible per-hour rate) plus $86.40 per month, assuming you want 24/7 uptime (which, if your web server isn't up 24/7, you are just losing business). This is for a minuscule 160 GB of SSD storage, 8 "virtual CPUs" (which works out to be slower than a non-virtualized dedic

    • Even if you could smooth out the $2691 over 3 years, that's $86.40+$74.75 per month = $161.15 per month

      If $161 per month is a serious cost for your business, then you aren't a real business.

      That is chump change.

      • Unless you are deploying a zillion of these for each of your customers, at which time the chump change has decimated your cashflow.
        • Yes, and somewhere between one and a zillion, it makes sense to roll your own. I was responding to the one comment.

          If you need one, or five... use Amazon...

          If you need five hundred... now you have some math to do...

          If you need five hundred thousand... probably do it yourself...

  • by putaro (235078) on Tuesday April 15, 2014 @12:10PM (#46757607) Journal

    The article focused on how Amazon cuts hardware costs. The first step there is a big one - once you let go of buying name brand hardware, especially for storage, the price drop dramatically. So dramatically, in fact, that hosting (largely electricity, cooling and network connectivity) becomes the major cost in the equation. Amazon is pushing for extremely high density, however, that has a ripple effect throughout your whole datacenter design. If you're not in a high cost area, you might ask why focus on density because floor space is relatively cheap.

    • by Gondola (189182)

      Floor space is really cheap... until you run out. Once you run up against a hard limit like that, getting more can be very expensive in money and time.

  • So the story is Amazon provides cheap services by cutting costs. Is this new or some kind of bad thing?
    The way I see it the consumer benefits from cheaper service.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I got a couple of recruiting calls from Amazon AWS in northern virginia last year. Wasn't really on the market and I don't believe I applied to them. They probably got my resume off a job site. I generally don't take interviews without talking money first (Im in the top of the market, so why waste my time if you can't pay?). Typically if they can't afford me, it ends there. They refused to talk numbers. I also got back a bizarre statement of 'there is more to working at amazon, then money'. This typically m

    • 'there is more to working at amazon, then money'.

      A lot of companies say that. Doesn't necessarily mean that they underpay, they just don't want someone who will jump ship if some competitor offers them $5k more.

  • Amazon principles (Score:4, Informative)

    by subanark (937286) on Tuesday April 15, 2014 @03:30PM (#46760099)

    The Amazon business is focused around it's core principles:
    http://www.amazon.com/Values-C... [amazon.com]

    Notice that "Frugality" is listed as one of them.

  • I would love to use AWS but I am on a tight budget. I use Linode because I know that this month I will pay $20, and next month (surprise surprise) I will pay $20.

    But I look at two scenarios with AWS, one is that I will screw something up and end up with a $2,000 bill. I will turn on some database crap that is insultingly expensive the way I am using it. My other fear is that I will get hit with an overnight DDOS that wipes out my budget for the month some time well before the month is over. Thus I would n
  • And how are they cutting expenses that go on shareholder profits?
    • by manu0601 (2221348)

      Replying to myself: I assumed they would cut expenses to feed the shareholders but I was wrong. TFA explains:

      Amazon generated a whopping $74.45 billion in revenue for its financial year to 31 December 2013, but just $274 million in net income, a margin of roughly 0.3 percent. It sells Kindles at cost.

      Compare this with Google, which saw net income of $12.9 billion on revenues of $59.8 billion for the year to 31 December 2013, a margin on 21.6 percent; or to Microsoft, which posted revenue of $77.9 billion for the year to 30 June, with a net income $21.9 billion, a margin of 28.1 percent

      Question is: how do they manage to make shareholders accept that?

      • by gmhowell (26755)

        Replying to myself: I assumed they would cut expenses to feed the shareholders but I was wrong. TFA explains:

        Amazon generated a whopping $74.45 billion in revenue for its financial year to 31 December 2013, but just $274 million in net income, a margin of roughly 0.3 percent. It sells Kindles at cost.

        Compare this with Google, which saw net income of $12.9 billion on revenues of $59.8 billion for the year to 31 December 2013, a margin on 21.6 percent; or to Microsoft, which posted revenue of $77.9 billion for the year to 30 June, with a net income $21.9 billion, a margin of 28.1 percent

        Question is: how do they manage to make shareholders accept that?

        I'm guessing the investors expect Amazon to become and stay the Walmart of the internet (or perhaps the Sears and Roebuck from catalog days) and be be able to either ramp up margins or pay them at that level for a LONG time.

        • by manu0601 (2221348)
          I am not used to shareholders able to foresee what can happen beyond 3 months.
          • by gmhowell (26755)

            I am not used to shareholders able to foresee what can happen beyond 3 minutes.

            FTFY.

            And yeah, it's odd, but I can't think of any other explanation.

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