The most important question Amazon probably won't answer in its earnings today

Jeff bezosDavid Ryder/Getty ImagesAmazon CEO Jeff Bezos.

Last quarter, Amazon thrilled investors by finally breaking out revenue numbers for Amazon Web Services, its cloud computing business, for the very first time.

The company reports its Q2 earnings Thursday afternoon and there’s one more number we really wish the company would reveal: How many Prime subscribers it has.

Prime, Amazon’s $US99-a-year shopping club, gives members two-day, free shipping on millions of items, as well as access to thousands of free TV shows, movies, music, and books and unlimited cloud storage for photos.

It’s arguably one of the company’s most important initiatives: Prime members may spend more than double on the site per year than non-members do, according to an analysis from Consumer Intelligence Research Partners in January.

All of the non-shopping perks on Amazon Prime — like the video and music streaming or the cloud storage — basically just exist to make Prime a better deal, so the company can ensnare more power-shoppers. It spent more than $US100 million on original video content in Q3 of 2014 alone.

CEO Jeff Bezos puts it bluntly when talking about Prime’s award-winning original TV show, “Transparent,”: Amazon’s the first company to use a Golden Globe to sell toilet paper.

Amazon even invented a whole holiday to try to garner more Prime sign-ups. To celebrate its 20th birthday, Amazon declared July 15 “Prime Day,” with an onslaught of flash sales that only Prime members could access. Shoppers who weren’t yet members could sign up for free 30-day trials. Amazon said the massive event attracted “hundreds of thousands of users to Prime in one day.”

But, to the frustration of investors, analysts, and journalists, Amazon has stayed notoriously tight-lipped about its number of subscribers. It simply says that it has “tens of millions” of households signed up.

Estimates are all over the map. In its January survey, CIRP pegged Prime membership at 40 million. BI Intelligence analysts put it closer to 60 million in December of last year.

Forrester analyst Sucharita Mulpuru estimates that Amazon loses at least $US1 billion annually on Prime shipping expenses. If Amazon released a membership number, we would finally get a better understanding of how it’s really affecting its traditionally thin-margined business.

Because it’s still celebrating the frenzy of Prime Day — Amazon reported that customers purchased 34.4 million items at a rate of 398 products per second — the company could choose this quarter to finally make the big reveal.

Not that we’re holding our breath.

“We don’t expect Amazon to say much more about the number of Prime users beyond what they said last week,” Piper Jaffray’s Gene Munster told Business Insider.

But it can’t hurt to hope, right?

Disclosure: Jeff Bezos is an investor in Business Insider through hispersonal investment company Bezos Expeditions.

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