Drones delivering smiley face packages? Men in jet packs hovering by your front door with groceries? E-books delivered to your reading glasses? A watch that tells you where to get off? Science fiction. I think not.
Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) could do all these things and much, much more in five to ten years. Possibly sooner.
Future so bright they gotta wear shades
After reading Oprah’s Wow 2013 list, I was most inspired by #36, a start up company called Matternet that is experimenting with delivering medicine and food by drone to inaccessible areas in Haiti and the Dominican Republic.
Maybe drones couldn’t deliver a 52 inch flatscreen, but that little electronics gadget or to-die-for shoes is a distinct possibility. One day, the skies could be so full of Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) drones it would look like Hogwarts during mail call.
Polite delivery people in jet packs, probably thanks to Elon Musk and Tesla, will rush that missing dinner ingredient to your door. AmazonFresh is already delivering groceries in Seattle and will be available in LA and San Francisco before year end. Reuters reports 20 more cities are rumored for 2014, and there is further speculation for 40 cities in total and international Fresh delivery.
Then e-books bought on Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) could be delivered to your Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) reading glasses. Prescription glasses aren’t too hard to factor in, as another name on that Oprah list (#19) offers prescription glasses that you can dial your prescription into the lens, no optician needed thanks to fluid injection technology. If Silicon Valley’s history of follow-on imitation repeats itself, Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) could very well develop a version of Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) Glass or partner with them.
Every year, Fast Company lists the 20 most innovative companies ranking Amazon at number two for its expedited delivery (same day shipping in some cities) of their special smiley boxes. The company announced on July 29 that it would be hiring 5,000 workers for its fulfillment warehouses.
Why couldn’t Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) build its own version of an Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) iWatch? Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)’s design genius, Sir Jony Ive, is reportedly hard at work on the watch, and a hundred patents have been filed worldwide by Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) for a watch-like device.
Other companies also working on versions of wearable devices include Sony, Microsoft, Samsung. Citigroup analyst Oliver Chen predicts an iWatch could be a $6 billion business for Apple since watches are a high gross margin — 60% or larger — item.
Add some of Amazon’s delivery expertise and your GPS enabled watch could tell you which ramp to get off for that cronut you crave. Swipe the cronut over the watch and know how many delectable calories it is and how long it will take to work off at the gym.
And finally, Amazon could enter the internet fiber game one day and maybe it should. Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) has its Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) Fiber, its best new hope to wire America which it started in Kansas City where it calls it the “fiberhood.” Amazon was the original cloud pioneer, so why would fiber be a stretch for them?
Levering internet access with Prime, the paid entry to Amazon’s ecosystem and “gateway” to its budding media streaming empire is a natural. Amazon Studios is creating original content and not local access cable quality with big production values and A-list actors. Prime is of critical importance to Amazon’s bottom line.
Back from the future
All three companies reported earnings in July. Apple has allayed fears of declining iPhone sales with 31.2 million sold in Q1 and CEO Tim Cook reassured investors that the “something big” is imminent, saying, “We are laser-focused and working hard on some amazing new products that we will introduce in the fall and across 2014.”