Amazon drones are 'fantasy,' says eBay CEO

Rival e-commerce site CEO calls out Jeff Bezos' ambitious drone delivery plan

In the race to deliver online shopping purchases faster, drones don't impress eBay's CEO.

"We're not focusing on long-term fantasies, we're focusing on things we can do today," John Donahue said in a televised interview with Bloomberg TV Friday morning.

He was reacting to a television interview Jeff Bezos, CEO of e-commerce rival Amazon, gave last weekend in which he said Amazon is investigating the use of drones for package delivery. Bezos told CBS' "60 Minutes" that he hopes to have a drone-based delivery service ready by 2015, when he anticipates the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration will have formulated rules for civilian drone use.

Donahue underlined eBay Now, a service available in Chicago, Dallas and the Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens areas of New York, and the San Francisco Peninsula area. EBay Now offers delivery of goods in an hour, purchased from local stores and personally delivered by an eBay shopper. It costs US$5 per order.

Bezos' drone plan has received widespread coverage, both for its futuristic vision and the challenges that it faces. Those challenges include regulations, safety, technology, privacy and general discomfort with the idea of drones flying above towns and cities.

But Donahue said he wasn't opposed to companies pursuing far-out challenges.

"I think bold innovation is important," he said. "Our focus on innovation is around commerce."

Martyn Williams covers mobile telecoms, Silicon Valley and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Martyn on Twitter at @martyn_williams. Martyn's e-mail address is martyn_williams@idg.com

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