Amazon Just Lost $1.8 Million in an Hour

E-commerce Site Was Down for 90 Minutes

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- You expect it to happen to fund-strapped start-ups such as Twitter. But Amazon?

The e-commerce site went down this afternoon around 1:30 EDT and stayed down for at least an hour. Attempts to access Amazon.com were met with the following message: "Http/1.1 Service Unavailable."

Amazon is the country's largest e-commerce site, attracting 58 million U.S. unique visitors in April, according to ComScore. The company has recently been diversifying of late. In addition to books, HDTVs and its Kindle electronic reading devices, it is offering web storage services -- and today's outage could hurt its perception in that area.

It's hard to know exactly how many dollars a minute Amazon loses in sales for every moment its site is down, but simple math pegs it at about $1.8 million an hour, based on an Ad Age estimate that it will snare just shy of $4 billion in revenue during the 91 days of the second quarter. Of course, traffic tends to be lighter on weekends, heavier toward the beginning of the week. And it's not like everyone who can't get on Amazon immediately won't come back and buy their books or Kindle later.

Amazon's stock price fell for much of the day, including a drop around 2 p.m. EST. In all it was down 4% to around $81.

But it's still perplexing how a giant web firm such as Amazon could be unavailable for so long. The news set off a firestorm in the Twittersphere, where people joked whether the world was coming to an end and wondered how long it has been since the last major Amazon.com outage. (Incidentally, many marveled at the fact that Amazon was down and Twitter, for once, was working.)

A request for comment from Amazon public relations was not answered.
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