Amazon considers Prime membership price hikes, POS systems for Kindle

If Amazon's free two-day shipping and unlimited TV and movie streaming services for just $79 a year sounded too good to be true for the long haul, it is. Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) revealed on Thursday that it is considering an Amazon Prime price hike of $20 to $40 due to the costs associated with the service even as it looks to provide in-store POS systems via the Kindle.

"The increased cost of fuel, transportation, as well as the increased usage among Prime members" have prompted Amazon to consider a price bump, Amazon CFO Tom Szkutak said during an earnings call.  In fact, Amazon's net shipping costs have increased 19 percent to 1.21 billion, up 4.5 percent from a year earlier.  

Amazon has refused to disclose exactly how many Prime members exist, but in December said that it was "tens of millions."

Amazon Prime launched nine years ago to initially provide customers free two-day shipping on over 1 million items. It has since grown to include 19 million items, and the membership now includes access to Amazon Prime Instant Video and a digital library for Kindle owners for no extra charge.

In addition to upping the Amazon Prime price, the company says it is working on a checkout system for bricks-and-mortar retail stores that uses Kindle tablet devices. Amazon currently stores payment information for 230 million customers, which would be used to power the Kindle transactions. 

Retailers would be able to use the Kindle to take traditional credit card payments with an attachment, but Amazon might also seek to tie the system into an Amazon mobile wallet solution using one-click. Customers would be able to log-in with their Amazon account and use their saved payment information to complete a transaction in-store.

Both developments from Amazon came as the company reported $25.6 billion in fourth quarter revenue, a 20 percent year-over-year increase. On a full-year basis, Amazon saw $74.5 billion in revenue, a 22 percent increase over the $61.1 billion for full-year 2012 revenue.

For more:
-See this Wall Street Journal article
-See this Huffington Post article 

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