Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

At Long Last, Amazon's Jeff Bezos Confirms Just How Many Prime Members There Are

By Evan Niu, CFA - Updated Apr 19, 2018 at 2:53PM

You’re reading a free article with opinions that may differ from The Motley Fool’s Premium Investing Services. Become a Motley Fool member today to get instant access to our top analyst recommendations, in-depth research, investing resources, and more. Learn More

But where are all those Prime members located?

For years, Amazon.com (AMZN -7.16%) has closely guarded just how many Prime members it has, leading to much speculation. The e-commerce titan has consistently obfuscated this metric with a standard phrase: "tens of millions." Amazon used the same phrase recently when discussing how many music subscribers it has, the first such time it has given any detail regarding its music business.

Well, CEO Jeff Bezos has just released Amazon's annual shareholder letter, and he has finally disclosed how many Prime members the company has.

Amazon packages on a conveyer belt with a warehouse worker in the background

Image source: Amazon.

100 million and counting

To be clear, Bezos did not provide an exact figure, but instead noted that Amazon has now "exceeded 100 million paid Prime members globally," 13 years after the program was introduced. It's not clear how far above 100 million the member base is. Over the years, Amazon has continued to stuff more and more benefits into Prime, to the point where it's a no-brainer for most e-commerce shoppers, providing incredible value and convenience.

The richest man in history also noted that Amazon shipped over 5 billion items with Prime worldwide last year, and 2017 saw the greatest number of new Prime members than any other year. That includes member additions in the U.S. as well as international markets, although Bezos stopped short of providing any other granular detail regarding the Prime member base, such as a geographical breakdown.

Such a breakdown would be crucial in estimating how much Prime revenue Amazon ultimately brings in, as Prime is priced differently based on geographical market. For example, Prime costs just 999 rupees in India, or $15, compared to the $99 annual fee in the U.S. Prime launched in India in 2016, and Amazon is still in the early stages of building out its infrastructure in the world's second-most-populous nation, and doesn't include as many benefits as the U.S. version (yet).

Prime launched in Mexico during 2017, with an introductory annual fee of 449 pesos (about $25), which jumps to 899 pesos (about $50) after the first year. Earlier this year, Amazon raised the monthly fee of Prime in the U.S. from $11 per month to $13 per month in an apparent effort to encourage annual subscriptions, as the price increase only affected monthly subscribers.

It's fair to say that most of the Prime member base is located in the important U.S. market, but only Bezos and Co. know that breakdown. Inevitably, Street analysts will offer opinions and estimates in the days and weeks ahead. The disclosure is a small but meaningful step for investor transparency, which Amazon has a poor track record with. It took years for Amazon to start sharing detailed financials for its all-important Amazon Web Services (AWS) division, which is now the company's most profitable segment by far.

Fortunately for investors, it'll be quite a while until Amazon can start hiding behind proclamations of "hundreds of millions" of Prime subscribers. 

Invest Smarter with The Motley Fool

Join Over 1 Million Premium Members Receiving…

  • New Stock Picks Each Month
  • Detailed Analysis of Companies
  • Model Portfolios
  • Live Streaming During Market Hours
  • And Much More
Get Started Now

Stocks Mentioned

Amazon.com, Inc. Stock Quote
Amazon.com, Inc.
AMZN
$2,142.25 (-7.16%) $-165.12

*Average returns of all recommendations since inception. Cost basis and return based on previous market day close.

Related Articles

Motley Fool Returns

Motley Fool Stock Advisor

Market-beating stocks from our award-winning service.

Stock Advisor Returns
349%
 
S&P 500 Returns
122%

Calculated by average return of all stock recommendations since inception of the Stock Advisor service in February of 2002. Returns as of 05/19/2022.

Discounted offers are only available to new members. Stock Advisor list price is $199 per year.

Premium Investing Services

Invest better with The Motley Fool. Get stock recommendations, portfolio guidance, and more from The Motley Fool's premium services.