Amazon: a physical web service

I was interested to read about this Amazon service:

Since last fall, the program, Fulfillment by Amazon, has allowed independent sellers who list their goods on Amazon.com to use its network of more than 20 distribution centers around the world to fill orders. Now Amazon, which is based in Seattle, is opening the program to vendors who list their items elsewhere on the Web — on their own site, through Google, or even on Amazon’s e-commerce rival, eBay. [Sold on eBay, Shipped by Amazon.com - New York Times]
Amazon continues to leverage the infrastructure it is building to support its own business to provide on-demand functionality as a service to other businesses. They use the name Amazon web services to cover this range of services, including this one which has a rather strong physical component!

The promise is that such on-demand services make it easier for others to focus on the service they are providing and not have to build general infrastructure.

It also can increase revenues: using Fulfillment by Amazon to sell on Amazon’s third-party marketplace qualifies products for the shipping discounts the company offers buyers, which typically improves sales. But the program’s biggest benefit, Amazon says, is to relieve sellers of one of the most laborious parts of their business — packaging products and getting them to customers promptly. [Sold on eBay, Shipped by Amazon.com - New York Times]

I occasionally wonder how Amazon's on-demand infrastructure services - S3 for example, which provides storage, and EC2, which provides computational capacity - are doing.

In a conference call with Wall Street analysts on Tuesday, Mr. Bezos said that the overall Amazon Web Services initiative was growing rapidly, but was not yet profitable. Another Web services program, Amazon Simple Storage Service, or S3, allows businesses to store their data on Amazon’s own computer servers. Mr. Bezos said S3 now held 5 billion “objects,” or pieces of data, up from 800 million last July. [Sold on eBay, Shipped by Amazon.com - New York Times]

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