You’d have to be living under a rock for the past two weeks to have not heard about Amazon’s announcement on CBS’s 60 Minutes, that within the next four to five years Amazon plans to have unmanned, GPS programmed drones delivering packages through the sky, right to your doorstep within 30 minutes from the time your order is placed. The idea is right out of a sci-fi movie; hundreds of drones navigating our cities and landing packages on our doorsteps, incredible. How could you not be impressed by the video released to CBS of Amazon’s “octocopters” in action? After sitting in awe for a good half hour, I suddenly realized I should be more impressed by Amazon’s marketing department than their staff of engineers.
First I began to think of how plausible this drone idea actually was. Small robots carrying around expensive packages through the sky? Give me a big butterfly net and I’m quitting my job to become a professional octocopter hunter. But even more important than package security is use of U.S. airspace. Currently, the FAA, Federal Aviation Administration, does not allow the use of any autonomous drones in U.S. airspace, and does not even allow remotely controlled devices to occupy U.S. airspace for commercial intent. The FAA plans to review these laws and make changes in 2015, but as a safety concern I really cannot see them allowing so many drones to clutter our skies.
With all the obstacles in the way of Amazon Prime Air’s success, I began to think of other reasons why Amazon would release this press statement years before it could ever become reality. The first place I looked was the calendar. This holiday season seems to be the worst yet for Black Friday marketing. It is no longer Black Friday, now its Black Thursday, Friday, Saturday. Spend time with your family on Thanksgiving or camp at Best Buy seemed to be a dilemma for many Americans. I for one do not like fighting enraged consumers for discounted electronics and would much rather wait for “cyber monday” and get the same deals from the comfort of my home. If you didn’t know, Amazon is the world’s largest online retailer and, oh what a surpise, the octocopter press release aired on Sunday, December 1st, the day before cyber monday.
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Amazon continues to have amazing holiday revenue, growing by millions every year and I applaud their marketing department. Not once in the Amazon telecast did they mention cyber monday or sale prices, but instead tapped into the childlike imagination of their consumers. Even if Amazon Prime Air never makes a public debut, for that week after airing on CBS and subsequently going viral on every social media platform, it was all anybody talked about, and I cannot wait to see how well this stunt played out for Amazon in terms of revenue and page visits.