Bezos: Mad Genius or Budding Bond Villain?
Along with millions of others, no doubt, I fell victim to the countless 60 Minutes ads that ran during football coverage on Sunday showing Amazon's Jeff Bezos opening a mystery door to an incredulous Charlie Rose, unveiling a new magical addendum to one-click shopping and free delivery. These incessant 60 Minutes teasers usually turn out to be as disappointing as a sideshow barker's, but I cover this stuff, so I thought it should check it out before switching over to the Giants-Redskins game.
The big moment came. Bezos opens the door. Rose shrieks like a boy on Christmas morn. What could it be? The camera cuts to what looks like an erector set creation with little toy copter blades attached. Jeff Bezos is bringing back erector sets for Christmas? No, Jeff Bezos is plotting to launch his own air force of drones that will carry packages directly from the warehouse to the collective doorstep of an eager consumer world. My mouth fell open. He's insane, I thought.
Charlie was delighted, meanwhile, guffawing in awe of Bezos's mad genius. I, however, looked at the slight, cue-ball-headed e-tailer as he reacted to Rose with a slightly spastic giggle and had a flashback to Donald Pleasence as the similarly strange and bald villain Ernst Blofeld in the James Bond film You Only Live Twice who secretly created a space program in hopes of leading the U.S. and the USSR to annihilate each other. That would leave Blofeld in charge of the world, as apparently Bezos is now, since Rose had no questions to ask about Bezos's bizarre plan to assault American air space with flying merchandise. Nor did Farhood Manjoo, who gushed in the Wall Street Journal about Bezos's high-flying PR coup at the onset of the Christmas shopping season. Who knows? Bezos bought the Washington Post. Maybe he's got his eyes on the Journal as well.
Here are a few questions I would have posed to Bezos:
What does the FAA think about this? The Federal Aviation Administration tends to look skeptically at flocks of tiny whirly-birds interfering with a busy schedule of commercial, passenger, and military aircraft. Even hero pilot Sully Sullenberger, who withstood an onslaught of Canadian Geese to bring his airliner down safely in the Hudson River, might meet his match in a squadron of flying toaster ovens.
Is it safe? How do you possibly control clouds of drones descending on suburbia? A few rogues are bound to lose their way and land on some old ladies and kindergartners on tricycles. Are you prepared, Jeff, to deal with the collateral damage?
What about the criminal element? How long after the first Amazon PrimeAir fleet takes wing do ne'er-do-wells begin disarming them with baseball bats and .22 rifles and running off with the merch? Hours would be my guess.
Since, as far as I know, Bezos the media magnate isn't bidding to buy Direct Marketing News, I will boldly suggest that all that's left for Jeff to do is find himself a decidedly ominous-looking sidekick to swiftly dispatch government inspectors and secret agents snooping around Amazon headquarters. Al Gore is sufficiently connected in the digital demi-monde, and equally quick with other-worldly whims. I see him lurching behind Bezos in a sky blue Nehru jacket with the big beard he sported during his stint as a college professor. Your nominations are welcome in the comments area below.