Amazon (AMZN 0.57%) is everywhere nowadays. I don't mean just the newspaper headlines -- though there are plenty of those. No, Amazon has become a part of everyday life for millions of people. It's almost impossible to get through a typical day in America without encountering Amazon's products, services, and infrastructure. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that Amazon is one of the five largest companies on the stock market.
If you're not talking about Amazon, you are an exception to the rule. However, this massive company makes plenty of mistakes and unpopular decisions, too. The Amazon chitchat is not always positive.
So what is everyone saying about Amazon lately?
Consumers talk about Amazon's products and services
The e-commerce giant is always working up original items like the Amazon Astro household robot or the ad-supported Amazon Freevee media-streaming service. Over the years, the company has built a massive presence in modern homes through the Echo line of smart speakers, the Fire brand of video-streaming devices, and the Ring collection of smart home solutions. The Alexa virtual assistant software ties all of these Amazon devices together into a coherent system.
Many people find Amazon's devices helpful. For example, my family wakes up every morning to the sweet sounds of Captain & Tennille crooning "Muskrat Love" on a handful of Echo speakers around our house. Every egg we boil relies on Alexa's handy timer function. These gadgets sure come in handy sometimes.
At the same time, some people worry about the always-there, always-listening presence of Amazon's digital spies in every living room and video doorbell. The company already knows way too much about us, based on our online shopping habits. The data Amazon fills in from the Alexa network inspires even more advertising and direct-sales efforts. To some, that's a deal breaker.
And whether you love Amazon's contraptions or hate them with a passion, they provide excellent fodder for watercooler talk.
Consumers also talk about Prime Video titles
Amazon's Prime Video service can't quite measure up to media-streaming king Netflix in most markets, but Amazon is putting in the work to become a serious challenger around the globe.
For evidence of this strategy's progress, let's look at Amazon's results in the entertainment industry's awards shows.
- The I Love Lucy biodrama Being the Ricardos was directed by Aaron Sorkin, starring legends like Nicole Kidman and Javier Bardem. The film didn't win any Academy Awards in 2022 but was nominated for three of the most important titles. Kidman walked home with the best actress in a drama award at the Golden Globes.
- Looking ahead to September's Emmy Awards, Amazon Prime titles nearly doubled their nominations from 18 last year to 30 potential statues in 2022. Again, that's far behind Netflix and Warner Bros. Discovery's HBO, both of whom have more than 100 Emmy nominees once again. But it's progress, and Amazon has established itself as a serious contender in the arena of high-quality TV shows.
The chatter should continue as Amazon keeps boosting the budgets and marketing pushes behind its most promising shows. As a fantasy fan, I'm mostly looking forward to the upcoming Lord of the Rings prequel series and at least two more seasons of Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time epic. I don't expect these titles to become the next Game of Thrones, but they are absolutely drawing attention to the Prime Video network.
Neighborhoods talk about those ubiquitous Amazon Prime trucks
Amazon's delivery vehicles are just as unavoidable as the Alexa devices. The company recently said that its delivery network consists of more than 50,000 vans, 110 cargo aircraft, 400 fulfillment centers, and 150 sorting hubs.
And the logistics system is still growing. Amazon spent $152 billion on shipping and order fulfillment expenses in 2021, up from $78 billion in 2019.
This gigantic delivery network also makes Amazon a game-changing force in the transportation industry. The company has ordered tens of thousands of electric delivery vehicles from Fiat/Chrysler parent Stellantis for its European delivery centers. In America, the first electric delivery vehicles from Rivian hit the streets just a couple of weeks ago. The Stellantis vehicles are part of a multiyear partnership, and Amazon has committed to ordering 100,000 Rivian vans by 2030.
If the sheer volume of Amazon Prime delivery vans weren't the talk of the town already, the enormous fleet of electric Prime vans would undoubtedly do the job.
Amazon workers talk about unions and walkouts
With 1.5 million employees and untold legions of contractors, Amazon is one of the largest employers in the world. Many workers in the fulfillment and delivery system are attempting to organize themselves into labor unions, hoping to negotiate better terms of employment under a collective bargaining agreement. Amazon does not support this idea at all, taking steps to break up union talks and defeat worker votes on this matter.
However, Amazon is being dragged into unionized labor relations kicking and screaming. The first Amazon union was established in Italy in 2018, followed by many others across the union-friendly European continent. Strikes and walkouts are not unheard of in Amazon's shipping centers in Germany, Poland, and France.
American workers are attempting to follow suit. Unionization votes have created official worker groups in New York and Seattle, and the Teamsters labor union has pledged to help Amazon's workforce get organized.
It's unclear the unionization drive will go or how much the labor groups will help Amazon's workers, but the process is underway. Things are happening, and people are talking.
Investors talk about another great earnings report
I'd be remiss not to mention that Amazon tends to deliver fantastic business results in nearly any market environment. Top-line revenues have tripled in five years, and Amazon's earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) added up to $50.7 billion over the last four quarters.
Amazon's quarterly results don't always measure up to Wall Street's consensus estimates, but the skyrocketing long-term trend is clear. Amazon is a mature giant that keeps growing like a hungry upstart anyhow. I'm not making a snappy observation here -- it's a real thing. Amazon founder Jeff Bezos famously envisions every day as "Day 1 for the internet and [...] for Amazon.com."
As a result, the business continues to grow at breakneck speed, and the stock has returned 1,100% to investors over the last decade. It's a growth stock with the massive financial platform of a fully mature blue chip titan. That's definitely something to talk about.