12/02/2013

Prime Air

I just saw Amazon's test footage of their unmanned drone package delivery system, and it seems to have attracted a fair degree of hilarity on Twitter and elsewhere. I can see where a lot might go wrong with this. But then, I can also see it being used to deliver packages to the kinds of places you and I probably don't live, meaning, out of the way remote places that aren't easy to get a postman or a delivery truck to...depending, of course, on what range the drones can actually cover. And while I can see people taking potshots at them in certain parts of the world, I can also see those same people becoming very, very unpopular with their neighbours, if they're the kind of people for whom receiving packages flown-in by drone is a godsend. Like, people on islands, or in remote villages up the sides of mountains. And I can't help but wonder even as I write this if Amazon is eyeing the parcel service in different parts of the world with an eye to undercutting it...

There's been a lot in the press recently about Amazon's sometimes brutal approach to employment, and deservedly so. But when I see people scoffing at Amazon, I find myself thinking back to when I briefly worked in Borders Books, another once-monolithic American business with a cool disregard for unions and workers rights, and how their managers would laugh - literally laugh - at how much money Amazon was losing, and how foolish their investors must be. Then they scoffed at the first Kindle, for being an ugly, ungainly lump of plastic that couldn't possibly challenge publishers. Now Borders is dust, and the Kindle is only one small part of Amazon's increasing domination of the entire publishing industry. Let's just see if that drone looks so silly in a couple of years time. 
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