亚马逊尊享会员服务2005年首次推出时曾经因为它的送货时间只需两天而名声大噪。不过后来，它的服务领域就大大扩展了，提供41,000部流媒体电影和电视节目，还能借35万本Kindle电子书【而现在送货服务可能更具吸引力了，因为亚马逊最近宣布与经营惨淡的美国邮政（U.S. Post Office）合作，可无需额外付费就能享用周日送货服务】。
这个送礼计划是亚马逊公司增加会员人数的又一捷径。据晨星股票研究公司（Morningstar Equity Research）称，尊享会员的潜在消费金额是非会员的两倍，还更经常购买更贵的商品，同时他们也对亚马逊种类繁多的服务和产品更为关注。
2011年2月，尊享会员资格中新增了“尊享即时视频”（Prime Instant Video）这项服务。所有会员都能在亚马逊网站上下载上万部流媒体电影和电视片段。尽管即时视频的内容容量一开始落后于网飞（Netflix），但据美银美林（Bank of America Merrill Lynch）的一名分析师贾斯汀•坡斯特称，亚马逊公司为了增加视频供应量不惜砸入重金，与维亚康姆公司（Viacom）、PBS和米拉麦克斯电影公司（Miramax）等企业签约购买内容，是一项野心勃勃、将耗资11亿美元的大战略。
和对手一样，亚马逊也正借助它安插在好莱坞的前哨“亚马逊工作室”（Amazon Studios）投资开发原创内容。它第一部由约翰•古德曼主演的原创剧集《阿尔法屋》（Alpha House）本月初推出，将在播出三集后只对尊享会员播放。据坡斯特称，随着视频内容慢慢变得更富吸引力，“尊享即时视频”能推动更多人接受这项服务并留住他们。尊享即时视频服务收费比对手更低：在美国每月只需6.67美元，而网飞的收费是7.99美元。
Last Friday, Amazon (AMZN) announced customers can now officially give others a $79 Amazon Prime membership -- a move that came just before the official start of holiday season.
Users simply add an Amazon Prime membership to their online cart, enter the recipient's email address, then select a virtual delivery date.
When it debuted in 2005, Prime was notable for two-day shipping. But the loyalty program has long since expanded into an umbrella of services, offering streaming access 41,000 movies and TV shows and lending access to 350,000 Kindle e-books. (The first point may be even more appealing now, given Amazon's recently announced partnership with the ailing U.S. Post Office to allow Sunday delivery of packages for no extra cost to customers.)
The gifting option is yet another way for the company to increase membership. Not only are Prime members likely to spend twice as much on goods as non-members, buy more often and buy more expensive items, according to Morningstar Equity Research, they're also exposed to Amazon's broad range of businesses.
Launched in February 2011, Prime Instant Video was added to Prime membership. Any Prime member could stream thousands of movies and TV episodes on Amazon's site. Although Instant Video's content selection initially lagged behind Netflix's (NFLX), Amazon has invested heavily in growing its catalog, inking deals with companies like Viacom (VIA), PBS, and Miramax films, in an aggressive strategy that will cost the company $1.1 billion, according to Justin Post, a Bank of America Merrill Lynch analyst.
And just like the competitors, the company is also investing in original content with the Hollywood development arm, Amazon Studios. Its first original series, Alpha House with John Goodman, debuted earlier this month and will be exclusive to Prime members after the first three episodes. According to Post, Prime Instant Video has helped drive adoption and retain users as content slowly becomes more compelling. It also costs less than the competition: Broken out, Prime is just $6.67 per month in the U.S. vs. Netflix's $7.99.
It's working. While the company does not disclose numbers, investment research firm Morningstar estimated earlier this year that Prime had 10 million members by the end of 2012 and projects that number could rise to 25 million by 2017. (For context, Prime members reportedly numbered between 3 million and 5 million in fall 2011.) Michael Pachter, a Wedbush Securities analyst, chalks up the increase due to the company's content deals, which now make Prime "far more competitive" with Netflix.
Prime on its own is not a moneymaker, but the program, like so many other parts of the company's business is a means to an end in Jeff Bezos's long-term strategy. In Prime, Amazon wants to bolster customer loyalty, so online shoppers accustomed to two-day, or in some cases, same-day shipping, as well as the company's movie, TV and e-book services, either can't imagine going anywhere else or just can't be bothered to.
In the big scheme, gifting a Prime membership, is merely another small potential customer acquisition tool. (After all, Prime subscribers have been able to share their memberships for free with up to four other "household members" for years.) So whether this latest move will significantly add to Prime's user base is debatable. But there's little denying the company's aggression when it comes to trying.