Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Amazon’s Drone – The Next Marketing Frontier?

Somebody at Amazon must have watched “Almost Human”.

In the TV series episode 3, a drone delivers items to the hostage takers using a drone (which seems to be standard at that time).

Taking a leaf from JJ Abram’s playbook, the powers at Amazon have developed Prime Air.

Although definitely cool, I am not buying it. I think it’s a great marketing / branding ploy. Why?

1. Operating g a drone would require permission from the Federal Aviation Administration (FFA) for operating in US airspace. The FAA has said it will establish a set of regulations and standards for unmanned aircraft systems "over the next several years." Translation: good luck with that!

2. International deliveries are out of the question. Regular airplanes would still be faster and cheaper.

3. Any clever cybercrook can hack into the drone (just watch Castle episode 23 of season 5 for a demonstration!)

4. Kids, pets and bystanders could get hurt by the drone, triggering a tsunami of law suits.

5. Amazon could use the drone to “spy” on you, learning more about your habits and consumer patterns.

Even UPS, the world's largest parcel-delivery company, jumped on the hype and stated that it’s experimenting with various drone-based delivery solutions.

UPS stated: "The commercial use of drones is an interesting technology and we’ll continue to evaluate it. UPS invests more in technology than any other company in the delivery business and we’re always planning for the future."

Down Under, Australian Zookal, a textbook company, announced that it will start using drones to deliver its text books inside Sydney's Central Business District starting 2014.

It seems that even Bill Gates likes the drone idea; especially for delivering medication to remote areas.

But the main question remains – would it be profitable? I think it’s worth its weight in gold for PR and branding, but not so much in ROI.

It took Amazon several years to make its distribution and delivery system cost-effective. Point-to-point drone deliveries would only make sense if the customer would be willing to pay a premium for the service – similar to overnight deliveries. This could only work for delivery of special items; not for your average ordered book or DVD....

What do you think?

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