Amazon continued a strong financial year by announcing a sales increase of 34% to 43.7 billion US dollars (£33.2bn) dollars in its latest earnings report.

The online retail and technology giant, which acquired supermarket chain Whole Foods in August, has also released a wide range of new hardware products recently, including new versions of its Amazon Echo smart home speaker.

Amazon confirmed that Whole Foods contributed more than a billion dollars to the last quarter’s revenue, and also said it continue to lower prices on a “selection of best-selling grocery staples across its stores”.

Chief executive Jeff Bezos said the Amazon sales increase was in part down to the growing demand for the firm’s smart home products, which are powered by artificially intelligent assistant, Alexa.

“In the last month alone, we’ve launched five new Alexa-enabled devices, introduced Alexa in India, announced integration with BMW, surpassed 25,000 skills, integrated Alexa with Sonos speakers, taught Alexa to distinguish between two voices, and more,” Mr Bezos said.

“Because Alexa’s brain is in the AWS cloud, her new abilities are available to all Echo customers, not just those who buy a new device.”

“And it’s working, customers have purchased tens of millions of Alexa-enabled devices, given Echo devices over 100,000 5-star reviews, and active customers are up more than 5x since the same time last year.

“With thousands of developers and hardware makers building new Alexa skills and devices, the Alexa experience will continue to get even better.”

Earlier this week, the tech firm also announced plans to launch Amazon Key, a new smart package delivery system that uses an app, smart lock and security camera to enable couriers to leave packages inside the front door of homes.

Amazon’s strong financial performance in 2017 briefly saw Mr Bezos replace Bill Gates as the world’s richest person, before a dip in share prices saw him fall from top spot.

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