AWS hits $3.5bn in revenue for Q416, takes on ‘surge’ from Microsoft, IBM, and Google

James has more than a decade of experience as a tech journalist, writer and editor, and served as Editor in Chief of TechForge Media between 2017 and 2021. James was named as one of the top 20 UK technology influencers by Tyto, and has also been cited by Onalytica, Feedspot and Zsah as an influential cloud computing writer.


Amazon Web Services (AWS) hit $3.54 billion in revenue in the fourth quarter of 2016, representing an almost 50% increase from this time last year, according to Amazon’s latest financial results.

The cloud infrastructure leader earned $926m in operating profit at a 26% margin, while its annual operating profit margin was at more than 25%. Third quarter revenue for AWS was $3.2bn, while overall Amazon revenue was at $43.7bn.

The press release across all of Amazon’s portfolio has a full 38 bullet points in the ‘highlights’ section – go on, count them yourself – with AWS being mentioned 51 times in total. Customer highlights included Workday, whose migration was announced at Re:Invent in November, Capital One, and Matson, which this publication covered last month.

AWS meanwhile ‘continues to grow, and enterprise customers have committed to migrating tens of thousands of applications’, the company noted. Speaking to analysts, and fielding a question around the impact of AWS price cuts in November, Brian Olsavsky, Amazon SVP and chief financial officer, said the company was ‘very happy’ with the response from customers.

“I feel we’ve got a very broad base of customers from startups to small medium businesses to large enterprises to the public sector,” he said, as transcribed by Seeking Alpha. “We’re continuing to see strong growth across all those sectors.”

With all of the market leaders having now declared their fourth quarter results, it is worth examining AWS’ results with the competing players. IBM said its fourth quarter cloud revenues had gone up 33% to $4.2bn, Microsoft said Azure revenue went up 95% in constant currency, while Alphabet’s ‘other revenue’ bucket went up 62% to $3.4bn in the most recent quarter.

This, roughly translated, means while AWS continues to maintain its strong leadership, Microsoft, Google, and IBM are snapping at the incumbent’s heels – and according to figures released by Synergy Research yesterday, this means bad news for companies further down the table.

Comparing Q4s of 2016 and 2015 (above), Synergy sees minimal change in the 40% market share for AWS – if anything, ever so slightly down – while Microsoft, Google and IBM go up 5% to break the 20% threshold between them. The next 10 players, who include Alibaba and Oracle – Synergy says these two firms are bucking trend and growing at ‘impressive’ rates – do not have 20% share between them.

How best to sum this up? A recent Quartz article, published before Amazon declared, said AWS was the “financial life preserver that Amazon desperately needs”, and cited the fact it was still growing, but not as quickly as before. Synergy’s figures confirm this is the case, although it is a drop in the ocean in comparison.

“While a few cloud providers are growing at extraordinary rates, AWS continues to impress as a dominant market leader that has no intention of letting its crown slip,” said Synergy chief analyst and research director John Dinsdale. “Achieving and maintaining a leadership position in this market takes huge ongoing investments in infrastructure, a continued expansion in the range of cloud services offered, strong credibility with the large enterprise sector, consistently strong execution, and the wholehearted and long-term backing of senior management.

“AWS is checking all of those boxes and any serious challengers need to do likewise.”

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