Amazon wants new businesses to get hooked on its web services before said businesses get engulfed by a sea of Amazon competitors. That’s the reason it’s rolling out a new program called Activate.

The Activate program includes AWS credits, third-party bonuses, training, and more. Features and services are bundled for brand-new startups, with an even better package available to startups that have already been accepted into certain incubator/accelerator programs or that have been funded by select seed funds or angels.

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The Self-Starter package gives startups one year of free access to a group of AWS services, one year of developer support, web training and a lab, access to the AWS Forum, and third-party offers.

For more proven companies, the Portfolio package includes AWS credits, business-level AWS support, additional training and labs, special forum access, and third-party offers.

Of course, after the year-long trial period ends, Amazon is looking squarely at a bumper crop of more mature startups ready to pay for AWS — and likely reluctant to change their development and business processes to migrate to another service.

All this adds up to a sweet pile of cash for Amazon at a time when some folks find AWS’s prices to be wildly inflated.

In fact, a recent post from guest author Andreas Gauger alleges the company’s profit margins are grossly out of sync with its costs.

“Any service provider certainly needs healthy gross margins to pay for development, management, marketing, sales, and overhead,” Gauger wrote. “But I think just about anyone one reading this would agree that a 90 percent gross margin is unreasonably high.”

“Many of the world’s most successful startups already build their businesses on the AWS cloud,” said AWS VP Adam Selipsky in a statement on the news.

“Based on feedback from VCs, startups, and entrepreneurs, we developed AWS Activate to help even more startup organizations get going quickly by leveraging AWS to help build their business. We’re happy to offer this to startups of all kinds from around the world today.”

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