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Amazon’s Prime Air delivery service: A drone-based publicity stunt

Jeff Bezos has to be laughing himself silly over his interview on 60 Minutes in the US, in which he claimed the company is getting ready for a post-2015 roll-out on drone delivery of Amazon products. I'm not sure whether he's trying to further discredit the CBS news division after its fake Benghazi interview conducted by Lara Logan or what. He did accomplish one thing, though – more pre-Christmas publicity for Amazon.

Simply based on GPS info, Amazon's future "Prime Air" fleet of electric powered autonomous drones will apparently be able to deliver anything that weighs less than 2.3kg. If you have a driveway the drone can crash there, or through your front window. Ideally, as a hovercraft, it could drift on the porch, ring the bell and be waiting for you before flying off. I hope that the cat doesn't get too curious with such a device lest its head get chopped off by the whirring blades.

What's particularly weird about this obvious hoax is the number of people, especially in the Silicon Valley area, buffaloed by this story. They think it's a great idea. The outrageous credulity of the tech community – supposedly smart people – always amazes me.

This sort of nonsense dominates the various group-think conferences that provide most of the ideas for the tech community. The key to understanding this stems from a certain blue-sky insanity that feeds itself in the distortion reality zone all around the San Francisco Bay area. It apparently extends to Seattle.

Let's look at this bull crap for what it is, starting with the idea of thousands and thousands of drones being an obvious public hazard. Car accidents everywhere, cattle would stampede, flying saucer cranks would freak out, civil aviation would be endangered, dogs would bark, birds would get eviscerated in mid-flight, packages would be delivered to the wrong house, shrubbery would be chopped up, pets would be decapitated, fingers snapped off, eyes would be put out. I could go on…

And what about the yahoos in the back of beyond who would use these things as target practice: "Woooo-eee, I got me another one!" Trained drone-hunter dogs could run out and grab the wreckage.

The obvious lunacy of such a scheme is apparent, yet 60 Minutes played it straight when they should have kicked Bezos out of the studio and told him to take out an advertisement if he was looking for publicity.

Amazon is doing a lot of really great things. In the States, it does Sunday delivery via the US Postal Service. The company is fighting the various taxation plans installed by the states by adding large robotic warehouses near the major metro areas to improve service. It's setting the world on fire with its logistics, strategic partnerships, and other services such as Amazon Prime (and free video downloads in the US).

All that is missing from its business model is an aggressive advertising campaign. This comes down to a "why buy the cow if the milk is free" philosophy. Amazon can get all the publicity it wants because of the quasi-celebrity superstardom of Jezz Bezos.

For now, everyone loves Jeff and everyone wants to put him on their show or in their magazine where they toss him creampuffs and let him get away with anything he wants to say. Why advertise?

Why the media doesn't see this as a bad idea – giving away the milk, as it were – is always baffling. Bezos is only an interesting character to business owners who admire his pluck. To the public he's no Kim Kardashian, yet we run uncritical puff pieces as though he were. To make it work, 60 Minutes used fawning softballer, Charlie "I never met a rich guy I didn't like" Rose. For Bezos, he is the perfect interviewer. Here is an example of Rose's probing style:

Jeff Bezos: You come and get your package. And we can do half hour delivery.

Charlie Rose: Half hour delivery?

Jeff Bezos: Half hour delivery…

To make this worse 60 Minutes continues the discussion about these drones on the CBS website. It's an eye-roller.