So far, people seem to think that Amazon’s incipient
drone-delivery program, which was announced to great fanfare on 60
Minutes last night, is either a short-term publicity stunt
designed to draw attention to Amazon on Cyber Monday, or a
long-term publicity stunt meant to convince us of “Amazon’s
indomitable spirit of innovation,” while not actually requiring
Amazon to do anything yet. (Since, by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’s own
admission, there’s no way the FAA will allow unmanned aircraft to
deliver Amazon packages before 2015.)
Instead, I think Bezos is up to something much more practical. By
unveiling a huge drone program in progress, he’s sending a message
to the FAA regulators and Senate committees who are currently
considering how unmanned aircraft can be used commercially. And
that message is: Don’t even think about getting in our way.
I think it’s all those things. Of course it’s a stunt. Of course it remains vaporware. But I really do think Bezos wants to build and deploy these things.