UPDATED: See Amazon official comment below; new error messages reported.
Oops. The Amazon.com site became “unavailable” for millions of users across the U.S., at a potential cost of $31,000 per minute.
The outage comes just a few months after Amazon’s S3 (an online storage service) failed.
The site was down for roughly two hours, starting at 10:25 PST and was back up at 12:30, according to spokesperson Patty Smith. The cause was not disclosed.
“The system is very complex. On rare occasions when we experience problems, we try to resolve them as soon as possible,” Smith says.
The actual cost of the outage? Unclear, but if Amazon generates close to $4 billion this quarter (that’s the Wall Street consensus estimate) the company could book roughly $1.8 million in sales per hour, or $31,000 per minute.
Of course, those numbers include international sales, and international properties were unaffected. Also, there is no way to account for daily or weekly shopping trends.
“It’s hard to say that those sales are just lost, gone and unrecoverable — maybe some people came to the site, saw it was down, poked around, and came back and bought,” says Domenic Lacava, an analyst with Canaccord Adams.
We’re still not clear on what happened, but in an Amazon.com forum, the company left the stark message:
Greetings from Amazon.com,
We are currently investigating an issue that has impacted the availability of the Amazon.com website. Engineers are actively engaged in resolving this issue and we will provide an update once the issue is resolved. We appreciate your patience during this time.
Technical Account Management
In the meantime, several readers report getting an error message implying they’re robots:
You have been denied access to this feature because we believe you violated the terms, conditions, rules, guidelines or policies of our site in the past. If you believe we have taken this action in error, you may contact us at email@example.com.
Incidentally, the Amazon site isn’t the only thing that’s down — the stock closed down close to $4, or more than 4.6 percent.