Kindle launch fires up Amazon rise

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The launch of a big-screen version of the Kindle Fire e-reader in the UK helped Amazon’s total revenues rise 22% to $16.1 billion (£10.5 billion) in the first three months of the year.

International revenues — outside of the US — at the world’s biggest online retailer grew 16% to $6.7 billion. In the UK, it said big-sellers included Life of Pi on Kindle, the Gro-Clock Sleep Trainer for babies and I Knew You Were Trouble by Taylor Swift in the music download store. The most-downloaded app was Temple Run 2, Amazon added.

Overall sales growth slowed from 36% in the first quarter of 2012. Pre-tax profit was 37% lower for the start of 2013 compared with the same time a year earlier, at $82 million, after being hit by investment on new warehouses and devices and the launch of TV shows from Amazon’s studio division. That is part of the a strategy to win more customers to premium service Prime.

The Seattle-based company said its TV plans will see the Amazon website screen pilot episodes of 14 television programmes for viewers in the US, UK and Germany to watch, and then decide which programmes get the  go-ahead.

Amazon was last year accused of “immorally” minimising UK tax bills, in a report by the Public Accounts Committee, which pointed out that while its UK website reported a turnover of £207 million for 2011, its tax expense was just £1.8 million.