Amazon’s cloud dominance is starting to slip

Dominant for how much longer?
Dominant for how much longer?
Image: Reuters/Ivan Alvarado
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Amazon’s cloud computing business is slowly falling to earth.

The company posted its second-quarter earnings today (July 25), and Amazon Web Services (AWS), its cloud-computing division, generated $8.3 billion in the quarter, a jump of more than 35% over the same quarter last year.

Cloud services, a business Amazon originally entered to support its own infrastructure, has become incredibly fruitful for the online retailer. In the past year, AWS generated more revenue on its own than McDonald’s or Qualcomm, and nearly as much as Mondelez and Macy’s.

But Amazon’s long-term cloud dominance no longer seems a sure thing. AWS is still growing steadily, but after hovering around 50% quarter-over-quarter growth for past few years, that number dropped precipitously this quarter. Compare that to Microsoft, whose “Intelligent Cloud” business brought in over $11 billion in the second quarter, 19% higher than in the same period last year. It’s not quite a direct comparison—Microsoft’s cloud businesses are intertwined with much of what it sells—but Amazon seems to be ceding its cloud crown to its Seattle neighbor.

And there are other competitors emerging. Alphabet also reported its latest-quarter earnings today, and while its Google Cloud revenue is far smaller than Amazon’s or Microsoft’s—the Alphabet business line that includes cloud generated $6.2 billion this quarter—Microsoft’s nascent cloud business may have seemed equally small to Amazon just a few years ago.