Jeff Bezos pulled off an amazing PR coup last week. Bezos seduced the 60 Minutes TV program into giving him a coveted feature spot on the Sunday evening before Cyber Monday—the biggest online shopping day of the year. He promised 60 minutes a newsworthy scoop. After the usual puff piece extolling the virtues of shopping at Amazon.com, and emphasizing the infrastructure that Amazon has in place to support online shopping for everything, came the promised exclusive. Bezos took the camera crew into one of the top secret Amazon labs and showed the prototype of the helicopter drones that will purportedly be able to deliver a package from a distribution center direct to your doorstep within 30 minutes. Bezos was careful to say that this drone-based delivery service is probably years away, because they would need to get FAA approval and ensure they have all the kinks out. But the novelty and oddity of the idea got everyone buzzing, reinforcing the Amazon value proposition of rapid, predictable delivery.
As most Americans know, the flawed healthcare.gov website was promised to be fixed by this past weekend, so that uninsured Americans would be able to shop for health insurance over the long holiday weekend, in time to select a plan and to sign up before the end of the year. How well did the rescue team do? They apparently did improve the web site’s response times and tweak the workflow. But they haven’t yet addressed the handoff between the front end (shopping for health insurance) and the back end (signing up for health insurance).
My favorite cartoon this week combines both of these news items: