The future of shopping

In a shrewd marketing move just before the Thanksgiving shopping madness, Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos managed to grab headlines for his company by telling an awestruck and gullible Charlie Rose on 60 Minutes that it may not be long before his company was delivering packages to customers in 30 minutes using drones.

There are huge hurdles to be overcome before such a thing happens, obstacles so immense (such as the danger of flying machines with whirling steel blades descending on residential areas with children and pets) that it may never happen.

But Stephen Colbert imagines an even more futuristic shopping experience that will go beyond even Amazon’s wildest imaginings.

The Colbert Report
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(This clip aired on December 2, 2013. To get suggestions on how to view clips of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report outside the US, please see this earlier post. If the videos autoplay, please see here for a diagnosis and possible solutions.)


  1. badgersdaughter says

    I don’t quite know how to put this. Well, I do actually, but it’s not ladylike. Oh, what the hell, I’ll sip tea in the garden with my pinky out, and murmur in dulcet bell-like tones: Amazon is soooo full of shit their hairbrush stinks.

  2. kyoseki says

    FAA problems aside, with a very limited range (I believe they said 10 miles) you’d have to live just down the street from an Amazon distribution center in order for this to be of any use whatsoever.

    The problem I see here is that the distribution centers are invariably on the outskirts of major cities (primarily because they’re bloody huge and real estate in built up areas is, unsurprisingly, expensive as all hell) – I live in West Los Angeles (at least, for the next month) and the nearest distribution center is San Bernardino, some 70 miles away – and opening up smaller, regional dispatch centers doesn’t work either because it’ll both decrease the availability of items and increase the overall cost, which undermines the entire purpose of Amazon in the first place.

    …. even if they could get the drones range increased to practical levels, unless the things are moving at 50-100 mph (which seems like a bad idea) the delivery time would increase to the point where you’d be better off just going to the store, particularly since you can’t get away without paying State sales tax any more.

    Other than being a publicity stunt, I can’t see this going anywhere.

    … now pizza delivery on the other hand …

  3. colnago80 says

    Hey folks, this clown has just bought the Washington Post, one of the 2 most influential newspapers in the US. I can foresee stuff like this being promoted there.

  4. Trebuchet says

    I like Colbert’s idea. They could call it Bez-Mart.

    On the other hand, I can imagine a future in which Amazon would deliver me a book over a wire in just a few seconds, with the last 10 feet on radio waves! Oh wait, I did that yesterday.

  5. sailor1031 says

    Mr Bezos is clearly blowing it out his jetpipe. Does he have any idea – any idea at all – of the ATC infrastructure that would need to be in place to accommodate the many thousands of drones that amazon would need to deliver the many thousands of packages they ship, within a half hour? Is that cost coming out of FAA funds? I think not. The safety issues alone are daunting. And where is he going to get all those drone pilots he’ll need? since we don’t seem to be at the required level of automation yet. He’d be better off developing the technology to put a star trek replicator in every customer’s home….

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