Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos took a subtle swipe at Apple in his annual letter to shareholders, in which he extolled the independence of authors, programmers, retailers and other entrepreneurs as being core to their own and Amazon’s successes.

“Even well-meaning gatekeepers slow innovation,” Bezos wrote. “When a platform is self-service, even the improbable ideas can get tried, because there’s no expert gatekeeper ready to say ‘that will never work!’ And guess what – many of those improbable ideas do work, and society is the beneficiary of that diversity.”

Amazon Web Services now has 30 different services and thousands of developers as customers, he said. One of the first AWS offerings, the Simple Storage Service, routinely handles more than 500,000 transactions per second and has peaked at nearly a million transactions per second, all of which is on a pay-as-you-go basis.

“AWS is self-service: you don’t need to negotiate a contract or engage with a salesperson – you can just read the online documentation and get started,” Bezos wrote.

He also said that Kindle Direct Publishing now has more than a thousand authors who each sell more than a thousand copies a month, with two having sold a million copies. Bezos points out that KDP authors keep their copyrights and derivative rights and can get paid royalties of 70 percent, far in excess of traditional publishers. To earn $2 from a book sale, according to Bezos, an author could either charge $2.99 via KDP or $11.43 through more traditional avenues.

“Invention comes in many forms and at many scales. The most radical and transformative of inventions are often those that empower others to unleash their creativity – to pursue their dreams,” Bezos wrote. “We are creating powerful self-service platforms that allow thousands of people to boldly experiment and accomplish things that would otherwise be impossible or impractical. These innovative, large-scale platforms are not zero-sum – they create win-win situations and create significant value for developers, entrepreneurs, customers, authors, and readers.”


Amazon Bezos 2011 Letter to Shareholders