Last December, exquisitely timed for the Black Friday shopping orgasm, CBS aired a very long, very serious commercial for Amazon and its pipe dream delivery drone. Only a few months later, it's trying to play the skeptic.
Amazon's Christmastime credulity started a media love-fest: virtually every mainstream and niche outlet picked up the Amazon is going to deliver packages in the sky! story, despite the fact that it was very much a story. Maybe Amazon will someday overcome the litany of logistical, technological, legal, and societal barriers making drone delivery possible. Maybe! But this story wasn't presented as a maybe, it was presented as a sensation, perfectly scheduled before the biggest shopping period of the year. It was brilliantly executed—a win for Bezos, and a black eye for 60 Minutes (the December segment followed by the more recent treatment can be viewed above).
But just this past weekend, 60 Minutes aired a new drone segment, which described aerial delivery as what it is—fun fodder for viral videos and, for now, marketing hype. What changed since the holidays? A CBS News rep told me I had it all wrong: the first segment was really "about the way Amazon operates as a business and only at the end, Jeff Bezos introduces the possibility of drone delivery as something in the future that is still years away."
Well, not really.