Image Credits: GETTY IMAGES (STEVECOLEIMAGES)
“Uh! Yes, Echo. I’m awake.” Walter’s answer stopped the noise and prompted this message from inside his pillow:
“Good morning, Walter. It’s 6:30 a.m. in Amazone 3, Monday, March 8, 2087. Current temperature is a crisp 11 degrees Ama-Cius. Have a nice day.”
Walter Wallace had received the same wake-up notice every morning of his life since 2060, the year he turned eight. That was the year planet Earth, third rock from the sun, became Amazonia, wholly owned by Amazon.com.
By the middle of the 21 st century, the world economy became dominated by Amazon and a few other online retailers and tech giants, like Google, Microsoft, Facebook, etc. For decades the megalomaniacs of those firms pursued shared goals of influence over sectors such as the global consumer goods supply chain, the content origination and curation universe, the global 24/7 news cycle, big data mining/consumer manipulation, etc.
Ultimately, planetary control was complete as their long-held geo-economic dominance coalesced with their nascent global political influence.
Life in the new world
In 2053, Amazon moved its headquarters from Seattle to occupy the entire lower third of the island formerly known as Manhattan — now called New Bezos, after the company’s late founder. By then, most Earthlings received whatever they needed in life — including employment — from some combination of the tech giants. By 2057, a final merger resulted in absorption of the other tech behemoths by the ultimate powerhouse, as Amazon controlled every function of society, commerce and governance.
Walking to his job as an Amazonia community planner, Walter no longer noticed the constant buzzing of the Amadrones, the iconic device for how the company gained global control, as they delivered goods. The internal nomenclature was “unmanned delivery and surveillance platform,”or UDASP, because they doubled as aerial spies. Everybody knew that. But Amazonians had long since suspended any expectation of personal privacy or self-determination.
Walter’s parents had told him stories about a diverse marketplace that included something called small businesses. But the same year the planet became Amazonia, the last one closed in what was once Lake Station, Indiana, now part of Amazone 4. Louis Lukedic, Jr. finally gave up the fight against the UDASPs and closed Louie’s Dry Cleaning, the 60-year business his father founded as the new millennia dawned. Besides, Louie Jr.’s children had all been assimilated by Amazon.
Walking to work in what was once Cincinnati, Ohio, all around Walter were Amazon branded buildings, including commercial structures for doing the corporation’s business, and high rises, to house Amazonians. Just last year, Walter, his wife and two children moved into one of the newest buildings. His parent’s generation were the last to experience home-ownership.
Every morning Walter stopped at an AmaMac SDD (sustenance delivery device) to procure a green breakfast wafer that tasted better than it looked, and coffee-flavored liquid. As a holographic scan confirmed whose personal Amaccount to debit, a strange noise came out of the SDD.
A rude awakening
“Wazzat?” Walter grunted loudly, as he slapped the snooze button. “Where am I?”
“Honey, are you okay?” Walter’s wife, Wilma asked. “I think you had a nightmare.”
“Boy, I’ll say,” Walter exclaimed, wiping the sweat from the back of his neck. “I dreamed Amazon had taken over the world. I tell you, Wilma, it was awful — they owned everything. There were no small businesses anywhere. All the people had blank stares on their faces as they went about their lives. Even me.”
Opening the morning paper at breakfast, Walter felt a chill as he read this very real headline, “Retail Ice Age advances as Amazon and other e-tail giants transform Main Street.”
In his small business later that day, Walter thought about his nightmare, the newspaper headline and another dream of his — the one about passing his business on to his children. In a meeting that morning, Walter vowed to fight back harder than ever as he encouraged his staff.
“We must stay focused on what customers expect from us,” Walter continued, “which is our special sauce of combining a certain level of high tech and the high touch only we can deliver. We’ll combine both to achieve higher margins with what customers want — customization, and leave the commodities — what customers need — to Amazon.”
“And here’s breaking news: Amazon is 100 percent digital, but customers are 100 percent analog. Amazon may deliver dozens of different back scratchers, but it can’t scratch one back. Only a Main Street business like ours can reach that analog itch that’s unique for every customer. Amazon can’t beat us if we keep customers focused on that advantage.”
Write this on a rock …
Deliver the small business special sauce and you’ll have nothing to fear from Amazon.