How was your Christmas? Plenty of gifts under the tree? How many of them were either sold or made by Amazon? Odds are, quite a few of them were—at least on average across all our readers and their families. Because in its press release, Amazon says it had a very good Christmas this year.
It’s to be expected, really. Amazon gets bigger and better every year, and sells more and more stuff every year. If it ever has an off year where its sales and revenue go down, well, that will be news. (And Amazon will probably just not mention it in its press release, finding other things to crew about.)
I was over at my brother’s house for Christmas this year, and some members of his wife’s family came over for Christmas—her brother, sister-in-law, and their pre-teen kids. When they opened presents underneath my brother’s tree, I noticed the kids had gotten basic e-ink Kindles, and their mother had gotten a 7” Fire. (I made sure to point them to TeleRead for advice on unlocking it to slip Google Play on.) When I glanced at the kids’ screens, I saw them reading children’s books—the kinds of things with big pictures and only a little text per page. That they were in black and white didn’t seem to bother the kids.
If a similar scene played out under very many Christmas trees across the country—and Amazon’s press release suggests it did—then naturally it was a banner year for them. And the press release seems to bear this out, offering a long list of “Holiday Fun Facts” that incorporate pretty much all aspects of Amazon’s services. More than three million new Amazon Prime subscribers just during the third week of December, more Prime Now deliveries than ever made on Christmas eve, a record number of songs streamed via Prime Music over the holidays, and on and on and on.
There were a lot of items relating to books and e-books, too. The Fire and Echo were the two most-requested and most-gifted items from Amazon wish lists. If put in a straight line in their physical form, all the books kids read as e-books in FreeTime this holiday season would reach to Mt. Everest’s peak more than ten times. The most-purchased Kindle title for 2015 was The Girl on the Train: A Novel by Paula Hawkins, and the most-gifted Kindle book during the holiday season was Rath’s Deception by Piers Platt. The e-book people borrowed most from Kindle Unlimited was No Ordinary Billionaire by J.S. Scott, and the most popular Christmas Day Kindle purchase was The Snow Child: A Novel by Eowyn Ivey. (Isn’t it funny how so many writers feel the need to tell you that their book is “a novel”? As if you couldn’t already tell by other means?)
Whether you like them, hate them, or ambivalent, you have to admit that Amazon has considerably changed the way many of us shop for Christmas, birthday, and other gifts. As for the reasons behind that change, I think that all of the recent programs Amazon has come up with—Prime Now, Prime Pantry, Prime this, Prime that, even the entire idea of Amazon Prime itself—are just window dressing. I think one of the biggest shopping innovations Amazon has ever offered is the simple wish list.
The wish list has made the whole notion of giving gifts so much easier. If you want to do something nice for someone, you just need to search out their Amazon list and there are all the things they’ve said they want. You don’t even have to know their home address, because they can set that up, too. You don’t even have to spoil the surprise that something’s coming. I can and have sent gifts to on-line friends without even knowing what city they live in. Who would have even thought such a thing could be possible before the Internet? (Yes, there were wish lists and gift registries before the Internet, but they tended to be just for single local stores; those usually didn’t have the kind of wide reach that is possible with the Internet.)
It also makes gift-giving easier for friends and family. You can always know exactly what your adult family members want, including things you would never have thought of to get them yourself. If you don’t have any idea what to get your three-year-old niece or nephew, their parents can write out a list of things that are likely to be well-received. Either way, you just go there and place the order, and they end up with a gift a lot more personal than just another gift card. You do have to remember to keep the list updated with your current wishes, but I’ve gotten in the habit of doing that anyway. You can even put e-books on it.
And you don’t even have to shop Amazon to have been affected by this change. It seems like such a simple thing, but it’s been duplicated by any number of sites that sell things, such as Valve’s Steam computer game download store. (And, by the same token, Amazon allows you to add items from other stores to your Amazon wish list.) So many of Amazon’s innovations deal with sending things to people quickly and easily, but it’s the wish list that tells you what they want.
And so many people now are able to avoid the mad Black Friday retail rush, just by staying at home and shopping via Amazon. They can have their gifts sent where they need to go without ever having to leave their homes. That’s added up to a lot less stress and a lot more peace of mind.
Here’s Amazon’s press release in full.
Amazon Celebrates a Record-Setting Holiday for Prime, Amazon Original Series and Amazon Devices
Prime experiences record-breaking holiday season – more than three million new members worldwide joined Prime during the third week of December alone
Prime members made The Man in the High Castle the most watched TV season on Prime Video this holiday by 4.5x and doubled their total viewing hours of Prime Video titles, compared to 2014
Biggest holiday ever for Amazon Devices – up 2x over last year’s record-setting holiday
Over 200 million more items shipped for free with Prime this holiday season
Prime Now has busiest day ever on Christmas Eve – last order delivered at 11:59 p.m. to a customer in San Antonio, Texas
December 28, 2015 12:00 AM Eastern Standard Time
SEATTLE–(BUSINESS WIRE)–(NASDAQ: AMZN) — Amazon’s 21st holiday was a record-breaker for Amazon Prime, Amazon Original Series and Amazon devices. More than three million members worldwide joined Prime during the third week of December, bringing milestone growth to the membership program which offers unlimited Free Two-Day shipping, Free Same-Day Delivery, superfast free two-hour delivery via Prime Now in more than 20 metro areas, and unlimited access to tens of thousands of movies and TV episodes, including award-winning Amazon Original Series at no additional cost. Prime members made The Man in the High Castle the most watched TV season on Prime Video this holiday by 4.5x and doubled their total viewing hours of Prime Video titles, compared to 2014. This holiday was also the best ever for Amazon devices, doubling last year’s record-setting shopping season with millions of devices sold. Among Amazon devices, the all-new Fire tablet was the #1 best-selling, most gifted and most wished-for product across the millions of items available on Amazon.com since its introduction 15 weeks ago.
“This was another great holiday season to be a Prime member, and we welcomed three million new members in the third week of December alone,” said Jeff Bezos, Founder and CEO of Amazon.com. “Over 200 million more items shipped for free with Prime this holiday, and members doubled their viewing hours of Prime Video compared to last year with the Amazon Original Series The Man in the High Castle leading the way as the most watched TV season ever on Prime Video. On behalf of Amazon employees around the world, we wish everyone happy holidays and the very best for the coming year.”
Holiday Fun Facts
- Record number of units shipped worldwide with Amazon Prime.
- More than three million customers joined Prime in the third week of December.
- Amazon Prime membership continues to grow, and there are tens of millions of members worldwide.
- Record number of movies watched on Prime Video in 2015.
- Prime members made The Man in the High Castle the most watched TV season on Prime Video by 4.5x.
- This holiday, Prime members doubled their viewing hours of Prime Video titles, compared to 2014.
- Prime members shopped more than 30,000 Lightning Deals on Amazon.com with Prime Early Access.
- Christmas Eve was the biggest day ever for Prime Now deliveries.
- Amazon devices including the all-new Fire tablet, Amazon Echo and Fire TV Stick made up three of the top five items ordered on Christmas Eve through Prime Now.
- Some of the most popular Prime Now best sellers during the holidays were Simply Orange Juice, Bounty Paper Towels and Haribo Gold-Bears.
- A record number of songs were streamed with Prime Music this holiday season—worldwide Prime Music plays set an all-time record increasing more than 350 percent compared to 2014.
- Prime members shopping via mobile more than doubled this holiday in the US.
- Members worldwide uploaded more than a billion photos for free with Prime Photos this holiday.
- Kindle Paperwhite, Cards Against Humanity and Fitbit Charge were the most popular items ordered with Prime FREE Same-Day Delivery this holiday.
- Amazon shipped to 185 countries this holiday.
- The last Prime Now order delivered in-time for Christmas was delivered at 11:59 p.m. on Christmas Eve to a customer in San Antonio, Texas. The order included Blue Buffalo Dog Treats, an Amazon.com Gift Card, the all-new Fire tablet, Fruitables Dog Treats, LEGO Star Wars Death Star Final Duel Building Kit, Moleskine Classic Notebook and Stove Top Stuffing Mix.
- The last Prime FREE Same-Day Delivery order from Amazon.com that was delivered in time for Christmas was ordered at 9:58 a.m. on December 24, 2015. The order included Bluetooth Headphones, and was delivered in Phoenix by 2:59 p.m. – the same day.
Amazon Devices & Digital Media:
- Biggest holiday ever for Amazon devices – up 2x over last year’s record-setting holiday.
- Amazon devices were top-selling products across all of the items available on Amazon.com this holiday season – #1 was Fire, #3 was Fire TV Stick.
- The all-new Fire tablet and Amazon Echo topped this year’s most wished-for and gifted items for Amazon.com customers.
- The most popular movie watched on Prime Video this holiday season was The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1.
- The most popular movie watched on Prime Video on Christmas was Interstellar.
- Amazon Originals have been nominated for nearly 40 awards in 2015 including five Golden Globe nominations, two Screen Actors Guild nominations and eight Critics’ Choice nominations—series nominated include Transparent, Mozart in the Jungle, Catastrophe, The Man in the High Castle, and more.
- Amazon Studios released its first Original Movie Chi-Raq on December 4 to rave reviews. The film, from director Spike Lee, has gone on to be included in several end of the year “Best Film Lists” from LA Weekly, The New Yorker, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, Slant, New York magazine and Vulture.
- Amazon Prime members can instantly watch and enjoy the latest Amazon Original Series including The Man in the High Castle, Red Oaks, Hand of God, and the second season of Transparent as well as the second seasons of Amazon Original Kids Series Tumble Leaf and Gortimer Gibbons Life on Normal Street on hundreds of devices.
- The most common request of Alexa over the holiday season was “play music”—the top three holiday songs requested of Alexa on Amazon Echo this holiday season were “White Christmas,” “Sleigh Ride” and “Winter Wonderland.”
- Alexa helped set over four million timers this holiday season—ensuring holiday cookies were never burnt.
- Customers enjoyed hearing Christmas jokes and holiday trivia from Alexa this season, and on Christmas Eve, the “Santa’s Helper” skill helped customers track Santa as he made his way around the world.
- The top holiday related utterance requested via Alexa on Fire TV was “How many days until Christmas?” this holiday season.
- The top holiday song requested via Alexa on Fire TV was “Santa Claus is Coming to Town,” followed by “Jingle Bell Rock.”
- Chinese restaurants were the most requested type of food on Christmas day via local search from Yelp on Amazon Echo.
- The top streamed holiday movie available on Amazon Video on Fire TV was Christmas Classics Volume 1 (a collection of 8 Christmas classics such as Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Frosty the Snowman).
- Popular FreeTime Unlimited holiday titles enjoyed by kids in 2015 were Dora Saves the Snow Princess (Dora the Explorer), Olaf’s Adventures – FreeTime Unlimited Edition and Timmy’s Christmas Surprise.
- The hours that kids spent reading in Amazon FreeTime this holiday season was enough time to travel beyond our solar system on a space shuttle.
- The books read by kids in Amazon FreeTime this holiday season would reach Mt. Everest’s peak more than 10 times if put in a straight line in their physical form.
- Adele—25 was the biggest pre-sale digital album ever on Amazon Music.
- Michael Bublé—Christmas was the most played holiday album on Prime Music this season.
- The most popular holiday song streamed on Prime Music during the holidays was Perry Como—“(There’s No Place Like) Home for the Holidays” (1959 Version).
- The most played holiday Prime Playlist was 50 Great Songs for Holiday Entertaining.
- The most played holiday Prime Station was Holiday Classics.
- Plays of holiday music on Prime Playlists and Stations increased by more than 300 percent compared to 2014.
- This holiday season there have been millions of streams of Christmas in Tahoe—the first-ever holiday album from Train, available exclusively for streaming on Prime Music.
- Amazon released its second annual collection of original holiday music with Indie for the Holidays, a playlist that features artists and bands including, YACHT, Rogue Wave, Langhorne Slim, Tuxedo, Ivan & Alyosha, The LeeVees & Matisyahu, A Silent Film and more, singing newly-written or recorded holiday songs exclusively streaming on Prime Music.
- The most popular holiday song streamed on Prime Music on Christmas was “The Christmas Song (Merry Christmas to You)” by Nat King Cole.
- Worldwide on December 24, AutoRip added more than one million digital copies of The Beatles albums into customers’ Music Libraries for free, providing digital AutoRip copies of physical albums purchased from Amazon since 1998.
- Amazon Underground customers spent enough time playing apps and games throughout the holiday season to watch the entirety of Christmas classic movies, Home Alone, It’s a Wonderful Life and National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation more than a million times.
- The top book purchased on Kindle in 2015 was The Girl on the Train: A Novel by Paula Hawkins.
- The most gifted Kindle book during the holiday season was Rath’s Deception by Piers Platt.
- The top book borrowed on Kindle through Kindle Unlimited in 2015 was No Ordinary Billionaire by J.S. Scott.
- The most popular Kindle book purchased on Christmas day was The Snow Child: A Novel (Pulitzer Prize in Letters: Fiction Finalists)by Eowyn Ivey.
- Nearly 70 percent of Amazon.com customers shopped using a mobile device this holiday.
- On Cyber Monday, Amazon customers worldwide ordered more than 33 electronics per second from a mobile device.
- Amazon.com customers shopping on the mobile app more than doubled this holiday.
- The total number of hours customers spent reading The Martian: A Novel by Andy Weir in 2015 on Kindle is equivalent to more than 1,000 trips to Mars on the Curiosity rover.
- Handmade at Amazon sold enough rings this holiday season to give 13 to every contestant who has been on ABC’s The Bachelor.
- The heaviest item purchased on Amazon Business this holiday season, a BendPak Super-Duty automotive lift, weighs as much as the average beluga whale.
- Amazon.com customers purchased enough Rope King Twine this holiday season to tie a string from Seattle to Los Angeles.
- Amazon.com customers purchased enough Rubbermaid 42-Piece Storage Containers this holiday season to pack leftovers for the entire Los Angeles County area.
- Amazon.com customers purchased enough GREENIES pet treats this holiday season to give each of Santa’s reindeer 20 per second on Christmas Day.
- Amazon.com customers purchased enough Cat Dancer 301 Cat Charmer Interactive Cat Toys this holiday season to give 92 to each of the participants from all 21 seasons of Dancing with the Stars.
- Amazon.com customers purchased enough flashlights this holiday season to satisfactorily light eight collegiate football fields in accordance with NCAA standards.
- Amazon.com customers purchased enough Command Hooks this holiday season to hang a stocking for every person in Orlando, Florida.
- Amazon.com customers purchased enough LEGOs this holiday season to build life-sized replicas of every person attending a sold-out Seattle Mariners game at Safeco Field.
- Amazon.com customers purchased enough Anki OVERDRIVE Starter Kits this holiday season to wrap around the Daytona International Speedway more than 10 times.
- Amazon.com customers purchased enough Jenga sets this holiday season to reach the top of the Empire State Building more than 70 times.
- Amazon.com sold enough HotHands Hand Warmers this holiday season for more than eight million hours of hand warming.
- If every Just Dance 2016 video game purchased by Amazon.com customers this holiday season was played to completion by one person, he or she would be dancing until 2081.
- Customers across 10 countries took advantage of Amazon’s first global Black Friday Deal of the Day, and purchased enough Sennheiser headphones to give a pair to every person at a sold-out Rolling Stones concert in 2015.
- This holiday season, Amazon.com customers purchased more than enough 50-inch TVs to span the average width of the Grand Canyon.
- Amazon.com customers purchased enough storage drives this holiday season to download and watch the first two seasons ofTransparent more than eight million times.
- Amazon.com customers purchased enough Jurassic World DVDs this holiday season to equal the height of more than 2,700 Tyrannosaurus Rex.
- On Cyber Monday alone, Amazon.com customers purchased one Adele CD every three seconds.
- Amazon.com customers purchased enough women’s boots this holiday season that, if stacked on top of each other, they would be high enough to reach the orbit of the International Space Station.
- Amazon.com customers purchased enough running shoes this holiday season to give every participant of the New York, Chicago, and Boston marathon three pairs of shoes – one for each race.
- Amazon.com customers purchased a watch every three seconds this holiday season.
- Laid out end-to-end, the number of jeans Amazon.com customers purchased this holiday season would cover the driving distance between San Francisco and Los Angeles.
- Customers shopping at smile.amazon.com have generated tens of millions of dollars for their favorite charities since the program was launched.
- So far, over 100,000 organizations have received donations from AmazonSmile. One of those charities, Pencils of Promise, used AmazonSmile donations to build a school in Ghana for preschool and primary aged students.
Holiday Best Sellers (Amazon.com only):
- Amazon Business: Samsung 850 EVO 250GB 2.5-Inch SATA III Internal SSD; Logitech Wireless Combo MK270 with Keyboard and Mouse; Sharpie Permanent Markers – Fine Point, Black, 12 Pack
- Amazon Video: Inside Out; Trainwreck; Jurassic World
- Amazon Launchpad: Anki OVERDRIVE Starter Kit; Sphero BB-8 App-Enabled Droid; Pivotal Living Band
- Automotive: Hopkins 532 Mallory 26″ Snow Brush with Foam Grip; Accutire MS-4021B Digital Tire Pressure Gauge; Stanley J5C09 1000 Peak Amp Jump Starter with Built-in Compressor
- Baby: Baby Einstein Take Along Tunes Musical Toy; Nuby Icybite Hard/Soft Teething Keys; Fisher-Price Rattle and Rock Maracas Musical Toy
- Books: Laugh-Out-Loud Jokes for Kids; Adult Coloring Books: A Coloring Book for Adults Featuring Mandalas and Henna Inspired Flowers, Animals, and Paisley Patterns; Humans of New York: Stories
- Business, Industrial & Scientific Supplies: Georgia-Pacific Signature 2-Ply Premium Multifold Paper Towel; Rope King ST-300 Sisal Twine – 300 Feet; Dixon Valve TTB75 PTFE Industrial Sealant Tape
- Camera: Fujifilm INSTAX Mini Instant Film Twin Pack – White; GoPro HERO4 SILVER; AmazonBasics Head Strap Camera Mount for GoPro
- Furniture: Frenchi Furniture Black Metal Coat Rack – 12 Hooks; AmazonBasics Mid-Back Office Chair; Signature Sleep Contour 8″ Twin Mattress
- Grocery: KIND Nuts & Spices, Dark Chocolate Nuts & Sea Salt, 1.4 Ounce, 12 Count; San Francisco Bay OneCup, French Roast, 80 Single Serve Coffees; smartwater, 6-Count, 1 Liter Bottle
- Headphone: Panasonic RPHJE120K In-Ear Headphone – Black; Powerbeats 2 Wireless In-Ear Headphone – Black; Sennheiser HD 598 Special Edition Over-Ear Headphones – Black
- Home Audio: Jensen JTA-230 3-Speed Stereo Turntable with Built-in Speakers; Yamaha RX-V677 7.2-channel Wi-Fi Network AV Receiver with AirPlay; SONOS PLAY:1 2-Room Streaming Music Starter Set Bundle – Black
- Home Improvement: Roommates Star Wars Classic Peel And Stick Wall Decals; WBM 1002 Hand Carved Himalayan Natural Crystal Lamp; O’Keeffe’s Working Hands Cream – 3.4-Ounce
- Home: BLACK + DECKER CHV1410L 16-Volt Lithium Cordless Dust Buster Hand Vacuum; Hoover Power Scrub Deluxe Carpet Washer, FH50150; Darice 80-Piece Deluxe Art Set
- Kids’ Fashion & Accessories: Gerber Baby Girls’ Three-Piece Set with Bodysuit, Cap, and Pant; Northside Frosty Snow Boot (Toddler); Timex Kids’ T89022 “Time Teacher” Floral Elastic Strap Watch
- Kindle Books: The Crossing by Michael Connelly; Pretend You’re Mine: A Small Town Love Story by Lucy Score; Rogue Lawyer by John Grisham
- Kitchen: Rubbermaid 42-Piece Storage Container; Instant Pot 7-1 Multi-Cooker; Oster Electric Wine Bottle Opener
- Luxury Beauty: Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eye Liner, Intense Black; L’Occitane Shea Butter Hand Cream, 5.2-Ounce; Mario Badescu Drying Lotion, 1 Fluid Ounce
- Men’s Fashion & Accessories: Levi’s Men’s 505 Regular Fit Jean; Clarks Men’s Bushacre 2 Desert Boots; Timex Men’s T499059J Expedition Field Chronograph Watch
- Movies: Inside Out (Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack + Digital Copy); Minions (Blu-ray + DVD + DIGITAL HD); Star Wars Trilogy Episodes IV-VI (Blu-ray + DVD)
- Music (CDs & vinyl): Adele 25; Pentatonix That’s Christmas to Me; Frozen (Soundtrack)
- Outdoors: Hydro Flask Insulated Stainless Steel Water Bottle; Razor A Kick Scooter; Intex Airbeds
- Patio, Lawn & Garden: Bounty Hunter Gold Digger Metal Detector; Weber 6492 Original Instant-Read Thermometer; Original BEAR PAWS Pulled Pork Shredder Claws
- PC: Toshiba C55 Laptop; Dell E2414Hr 24-Inch LED-Lit Monitor; SanDisk Ultra 32GB UHS-I/Class 10 Micro SDHC Memory Card With Adapter
- Pets: KONG Cozie Marvin the Moose – Medium Dog Toy, Brown; KONG Air Dog Squeakair Birthday Balls Dog Toy – Medium (3 Balls); GREENIES PILL POCKETS Treats for Dogs Chicken Flavor – 15.8-Ounce, 60 Count
- Prime Video (movies): The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1; Ex Machina; Dark Places
- Prime Video (TV seasons): Amazon Original Series The Man in the High Castle; Amazon Original Series Transparent (Season 2); Amazon Original Series, Shaun the Sheep—The Farmer’s Llamas
- Prime Music (songs): Adele—“Hello”; Walk the Moon—“Shut up and Dance”; Mark Ronson featuring Bruno Mars—“Uptown Funk”
- Prime Now: Bounty Select-A-Size Paper Towels – White, 8 Giant Rolls; Aquafina Water – 16.9 Ounce, 24 Count; Haribo Gold-Bears, 5 Ounce
- Sports: Spalding NBA Street Basketball; Wilson F1415 NFL MVP Football (Official Size); Level Terrain FlipBelt Waist Pouch
- Tablets: Fire; Fire Kids Edition; Fire HD 6
- Tools: DEWALT DC970K-2 18-Volt Compact Drill/Driver Kit; MagnoGrip 311-090 Magnetic Wristband; Howard Leight Impact Sport OD Electric Earmuff
- Toys & Games: Snap Circuits Jr. SC-100 Electronics Discovery Kit; Nerf N-Strike Elite: Strongarm Blaster; Jenga Classic Game
- TV: Samsung UN32J5205 32-Inch 1080p Smart LED TV; Samsung UN40J5200 40-Inch 1080p Smart LED TV; TCL 32S3700 32-Inch 720p Roku Smart LED TV
- Video Games: Call of Duty: Black Ops III; Fallout 4; Star Wars Battlefront
- Women’s Fashion & Accessories: Columbia Women’s Benton Springs Full-Zip Fleece Jacket; BOBS from Skechers Women’s Keepsakes Delight Slipper; Rebecca Minkoff Mini Mac Cross-Body Bag