Amazon Key and Trust: The Ultimate Open Door Idea


Trust is a pretty important thing in business. Trust keeps customers coming back. It gives brand marketers a key word that might be second in value only to "quality." And, it plays a central role in data collection and analytics. If people don't trust you enough to share their data with your company that puts the kibosh on your big data analytics efforts.

Trust also is a strange beast in terms of being relative. Who I trust and what I trust them with is likely to be very different from your "who" and "what." Plus, our level of trust varies over time, whether we are talking about business relationships, news sources, or friends. Someone who I might not trust today earns my trust over time. If those who I do trust today violate that trust, they aren't likely to win it back.

So, Amazon's introduction of Amazon Key -- an in-home delivery system -- yesterday struck me as stretching trust just a little too far. Here's how it works: Amazon Prime customers will be able to install an Amazon Cloud Cam that triggers Amazon Key (priced at $249.99 to start), which unlocks their door if they aren't home when the right parcel delivery person approaches their door.

I trust Amazon to offer good prices and selection, and that they will deliver on time -- with the possible exception of the Christmas crunch time -- and I trust them with my data in terms of what I shop for and what I buy. However, I am skeptical about turning over the keys to my home just so I can get a new sweater or book a couple days early.

Image: Shutterstock
Image: Shutterstock

First off, I'm still leery of cloud-based home cameras and their vulnerability. Can you imagine a better hack than taking control of half the front doors in the neighborhood? I'm certainly not concerned that Amazon itself or its delivery partners will violate my home privacy, but it wouldn't be the first big company to leave a virtual backdoor open to hackers. What information could a bad guy gather about us, our comings and goings, and who visits us when? How about the idea of a hacker remotely opening doors for a thief? Goodbye 60-inch hi def TV. At least you can buy the replacement from Amazon.

However, I am left wondering if somewhere down the road Amazon itself might take lesser liberties with the camera, picking up just a few more bits of data about us and our habits, even our neighbors, added to what the company already knows.

I suspect that the real reason behind the Amazon Key development has nothing to do with the consumer's convenience or even the security of packages that are left untended on the front steps for hours during the workday. I'm sure Amazon Key is the next step toward some sort of drone delivery: Drone approaches home and triggers camera, which then opens door. No need for a driver.

I do know people who can't wait for things like drone delivery and Amazon Key. They will gladly pay a company $99 a year to not only get that sweater sooner but pay another $250 to give that company access to their home. I guess it's still a case of trust being relative, or perhaps a balance of trust with perceived benefits. For me personally, the value doesn't seem to justify taking that giant leap in trust.

James M. Connolly, Editor of All Analytics

Jim Connolly is a versatile and experienced technology journalist who has reported on IT trends for more than two decades. As editor of All Analytics he writes about the move to big data analytics and data-driven decision making. Over the years he has covered enterprise computing, the PC revolution, client/server, the evolution of the Internet, the rise of web-based business, and IT management. He has covered breaking industry news and has led teams focused on product reviews and technology trends. Throughout his tech journalism career, he has concentrated on serving the information needs of IT decision-makers in large organizations and has worked with those managers to help them learn from their peers and share their experiences in implementing leading-edge technologies through publications including Computerworld. Jim also has helped to launch a technology-focused startup, as one of the founding editors at TechTarget, and has served as editor of an established news organization focused on technology startups and the Boston-area venture capital sector at MassHighTech. A former crime reporter for the Boston Herald, he majored in journalism at Northeastern University.

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Re: Amazon, Technology and Personal Space
  • 12/6/2017 5:58:27 PM
NO RATINGS

Well said Lyndon_Henry and let's not forget a Tax package that appears only to address the Estate Tax.  I am very concerned that the foundations of Democracy have been compromised by those who are no more than traitors in my book.

Re: Amazon, Technology and Personal Space
  • 12/6/2017 5:04:01 PM
NO RATINGS

Louis writes

Hearing of Amazon's latest trail blazing idea ( literally a day before your post Jim ) made me cringe.

Do we really need to allow Amazon into our homes like this ?  I would think the majority of people would say "No" but the worrisome part is that a significant number will try this new service.

For all the constructive ideas Amazon has brought to Society, this one is allows mankind to pick up speed as we travel down this Slippery Slope of how technology aids and affects our personal space.

I have the feeling that the more you give, the more (technology) will take and this idea by Amazon is an overt reminder of just that.

 

If significant multitudes of people are willing to post their most intimate personal information on the Internet, and others to hand over the keys of the federal government to a crime syndicate headed by a con artist, I suppoe one shouldn't be shocked that another multitude will allow giant corporations to have unfettered access into their homes.

 

Re: Get offa my porch
  • 11/30/2017 10:49:19 PM
NO RATINGS

SaneIT, not fair. Delivery services have a signing option that requires someone to be home to receive the package. The problem is that thaTs inconvenience for the recipient. Most are willing to take the risks of theft.

Re: Central Amazon Store
  • 11/30/2017 6:14:59 PM
NO RATINGS

Great point and even the cat that might escape through an open door! The new feature may need to include a gate!

Re: Get offa my porch
  • 11/6/2017 8:44:46 AM
NO RATINGS

The sneakers theft doesn't surprise me, in the past 5 years or so there has a been a bit of a collector's market for them.  I know it sounds odd, but I know a couple people who could talk for hours about it.  As far as theft goes, they are probably very easy to identify based on the sender's address and the size of the box.  Since they don't carry serial numbers, can often retail for hundreds of dollars and are nonperishable there are quite a few things that make them prime targets for theft.  I think the more surprising issue is that even though we know that things like this are likely to be stolen from door steps we haven't come up with a better way to combat the thefts and delivery companies are more than happy to just set a box down and walk off. 

Re: Get offa my porch
  • 11/6/2017 7:44:31 AM
NO RATINGS

Trust does change over time and those who trust Amazon might not tomorrow. I recall an experience years ago discovering that a neighbor had signed and accespted a guitar delivery from the shipper when I wasn't home. Unfortunately for me, the "trusted" neighbor neglected to inform ne he had my guitar. Only after investigation with the shipper did I learn the neighbor had the guitar. To trust or not to trust?

Re: Get offa my porch
  • 11/3/2017 10:04:28 AM
NO RATINGS

I had an interesting conversation with a mail carrier last year. She delivered to apartment buildings, and had a front door key so she could access the mail boxes and leave packages outside the right apartment doors. She said package theft is a big problem, but I was surprised at what was the hottest package to steal. It wasn't Amazon boxes (which might have things like electronics). It was boxes of sneakers, which have high value when sold out of someone's trunk. Plus, I guess thieves like to have good sneakers when they have to run from a cop or angry resident.

Re: Get offa my porch
  • 11/2/2017 8:28:40 AM
NO RATINGS

With Amazon, I know that the consumer gets a lot of leeway.  I had a package that never arrived although it said it was delivered.  I called Amazon and they shipped a second item without much more than a few questions.  They asked some very basic questions like did I check near all the doors of my home, if I've had packages lost in the past, etc.  The questions came off as more conversational than a check list to approve a replacement shipment.  I suspect that it was delivered to the wrong address or lost in a distribution center somewhere since anyone who delivers to my house tends to come late enough that someone is home as we're in a rural area and probably last on any delivery schedules. 

Re: Get offa my porch
  • 11/1/2017 1:59:10 PM
NO RATINGS

@Terry I don't usually sign either. I think UPS used to do that more than it does now. I suppose it slows things down too much, and also they now carry devices that they can use to show where and when they made the delivery instead of relying on signatures as proof.

Re: Get offa my porch
  • 11/1/2017 12:57:56 PM
NO RATINGS

Good point, Ariella. But hinestly, I can't remember the last time I signed for an Amazon delivery, most of which come with my USPS daily now.

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