Amazon’s recent announcement around drone delivery captured the world’s attention. It is a creative idea. But, as Chris Anderson, founder of 3D Robotics (and also the creative mind that has propelled Wired, TED, DIY Drones, and other innovations to success), said about the idea before Amazon even suggested it: “It’s incredibly stupid.”
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Now to be clear, I’m a huge fan of Amazon and I would not bet against Mr. Bezos. I know someone who did and still kicks himself for not investing in the company. While I believe they are seriously pursuing it, I don’t believe it will happen in the near term. I would rather follow Chris Anderson into niche markets that need and can use drones today (besides the military) like cropdusting for farming. You can read about his start in drones at Wired.
Mr. Anderson has been building unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), aka do-it-yourself drones, for years. He started one of the dominant niche sites on the topic, then went on to start a venture funded company around it. Amazon may well acquire it to get at his domain expertise.
But until then, there are tons of other great ideas, but here’s one where an investment would yield faster, more profitable, and less complicated results: Uber. Google already owns a nice chunk of it, so Amazon would have to buy Lyft or another ride-sharing app. Of course, they could just try to build it, too, but why. If the goal is to get packages into the hands of customers within 30 minutes, the network is getting built and is expanding.
Uber has gently hinted that it will start offering, bundling other “services” into its real-time, on-demand service for finding a ride in metro areas. They delivered roses, on-demand, for Valentine’s Day. Loic Le Meur via TheNextWeb highlighted a number of other ways that Uber might continue to expand.
Let’s take this a bit further, this could be a terrific way for all the local merchants to “fight back” – all those business owners who bemoan Amazon’s dominance, read “interference,” in their normal way of doing business. A local merchant could start doing this today and “hail Uber” with the app and within a few minutes a package could be on its way to a customer, for a fairly low cost.
My friend and Forbes colleague Chunka Mui is regularly exploring the potential of Google’s driverless cars as well as its investment in Uber. To say he sees it as disruptive would be an understatement. You can read Chunka’s posts here: Google Car + Uber = Killer App. Add additional services into the mix and you really do have a killer app.
ReadWriteWeb has a great post on the three challenges Amazon faces with drone delivery. Oh, and a hat tip to Forbes staffer, Parmy Olson, for the great post on mobile apps we can’t live without, that helped me solidify this post.
I would love to keep this discussion going in the comments. Or, ping me on Twitter or Google+. How can you get a package to someone’s doorstep within minutes without freaking them out with a quadcopter? One Colorado community is determined not to be freaked out — they are passing an ordinance that places a drone in the “varmint category” and eligible for shooting. Let’s forget that such a rule is probably not a good idea; read illegal.
LONG AMZN and GOOG
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