Amazon is primarily a giant of e-commerce, but in the past eight years, it has developed a considerable side business as the leading provider of public cloud infrastructure with Amazon Web Services (AWS). Discerning AWS’ financial health has always been a roundabout process. But that’s about to change, because Amazon will start breaking out financial figures for the division, executives said today on the company’s earnings call, as Bloomberg and others reported.
It’s a long time coming, and it comes as a relief to cloud watchers, who after every quarter speculate on AWS’ exact financial position. And in a sense, today’s news is a watershed for the cloud infrastructure market, where AWS is ahead of Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platforms, IBM Softlayer, and several others.
Up until now — and even today — immediately following every Amazon earnings release, observers scour it for the obscure “other” revenue line for North America, which includes AWS as well as advertising services and co-branded credit card agreements, as a proxy for AWS revenue.
No longer. AWS revenue will now be clearly stated quarter after quarter, making things easier for analysts, competitors, customers, and other interested parties to get a feel for the financial well-being of the Amazon cloud.
Here’s some context for the change at AWS: The cloud’s revenue has grown through the years. And federal accounting standards say that companies must break out operating segments when revenue, profits, or assets exceed 10 percent of their entire companies.
For the quarter that ended on Dec. 31, Amazon registered a total of $29.33 billion in revenue. The “other” revenue for North America totaled $1.67 billion, so revenue isn’t the culprit. But without question, AWS is playing a bigger role at Amazon. And analysts have wondered for the past couple years when Amazon might finally break out the cloud business. Now that’s finally coming to pass.
Here’s some of the reaction to the news on Twitter:
Big news! Amazon will start reporting AWS revenue next quarter!
— Jillian D'Onfro (@jillianiles) January 29, 2015
RT @jandawson: Amazon is going to start reporting AWS explicitly next quarter. Big deal <Really big deal. And likely a really big number.
— Jay Fry (@jayfry3) January 29, 2015
— Ben Kepes (@benkepes) January 29, 2015