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The New York Times this morning reports about how Amazon remains obsessed with the delivery side of the business, constantly trying to figure out how to get products to shoppers faster and cheaper, even in investing in trucking fleets, planes and ships, and even drone technology as it looks for the secret sauce that will give it a differential advantage.

"Nowhere is the company’s push to become a logistics and delivery powerhouse more evident than here in the nation’s capital," the Times writes. "Amazon has emerged as one of the tech industry’s most outspoken players in Washington, spending millions on this effort and meeting regularly with lawmakers and regulators. Amazon has pushed officials to allow new uses for commercial drones, to extend the maximum length of trucks, to improve roads and bridges and to prop up a delivery partner, the United States Postal Service ... The money Amazon spent on lobbying in 2015 nearly doubled, to $9.4 million, compared with the year before, which helped to pay a bigger lobbying staff and pay for a new office to house them. The tally, compiled from public records by the Center for Responsive Politics, includes only the spending that Amazon must legally disclose."

There's a lot of money at stake here: Amazon's shipping costs rose 19 percent, to $5 billion, in 2015.

But the company's efforts has more than a few detractors, ranging from those who think Amazon is moving too fast with its drone technology development plans to those (like Ralph Nader) who believe that pushing for longer tractor trailers makes the nation's highways less safe.

In related news, the Seattle Times reports that Amazon "is rapidly exercising the right to buy 9.99 percent of Air Transport Services Group (ATSG), a sign that the Seattle tech giant plans to look over the shoulder of its air-cargo partner from the get-go as they jointly work out new ways of hauling Amazon merchandise across the U.S."

The story notes that "two weeks ago, ATSG agreed to run an ambitious air-freight service operation for Amazon out of ATSG’s Wilmington, Ohio, hub. The agreement, which followed months of secret testing with a few planes, includes the leasing of 20 Boeing 767 freighter jets by ATSG to Amazon. The big fleet will connect Amazon’s far-flung fulfillment centers at a time the company seeks to speed up delivery of items while keeping its transportation costs under control. As part of the deal, ATSG gave Amazon the right to acquire up to 19.99 percent of its outstanding common shares over the next five years."
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