DroneUps New Hire is a retail company, a veteran of big names like Apple, Under Armor, and Verizon. DRONELIFE spoke to DroneUp’s new Chief Strategy Officer about why his experience at Apple – he negotiated the first iPod and managed the global iPhone retail business – is a perfect fit for the drone industry today.
Smit is a professional whose résumé reads like an inspiring film. He started his career as a US Navy SEAL as a graduate of the US Naval Academy. After leaving the military, he went to Apple, where he spent nearly a decade and left shortly after Steve Jobs’ death. From Apple, Smit worked for other large retail companies: developing strategies for Under Armor and Verizon as employees and for other large companies as an independent consultant.
Even his free time is exciting: “As a two-time 505 world champion, he spends his free time racing sailboats and with his wife, two eight-year-old boys and a fourteen-year-old daughter,” says the DroneUp announcement.
DRONELIFE asked DroneUps new hire how his experience at one of the largest consumer goods companies in the world is affecting the drone industry.
“I spent my career at Apple in retail. When I first got to Apple, Wall Street laughed when Apple said they were going to open retail stores. A few years later, Apple Retail broke every record in the retail landscape and won countless awards for design and innovation in customer experience, ”said Smit. Apple retail was growing at a rate no one could ever have predicted. I believe the world will see the same explosive growth with the drone industry. This explosive growth will come with similarly unique challenges and fun issues that require rethinking. “
Smit says there are many similarities between the consumer electronics industry and the drone industry: Drones are a type of consumer electronics, after all. “The rapid innovation, the complex dependencies, the need to clearly define feature sets and priorities, the schedules for introducing and improving generations are identical to other categories of consumer electronics,” says Smit.
However, drones are a new category of devices. Technology solutions and applications are being developed to meet nearly all of the needs of consumers’ daily lives: transportation, communication, shopping, home security and more. At some point, drones will take their place in this ecosystem – but where exactly this place is remains unclear. “I believe the depth and breadth of drone services are still to be defined,” says Smit. “Customer expectations are higher than ever before. Companies like Uber and Instacart enable services at the push of a button. Peer-to-peer and business-to-business service offerings have also exploded. This has given consumers and small businesses easy access to a wide variety of professional offerings that would have been prohibitively expensive or unavailable just a few years ago, ”he says. “The role that drones will play in relation to the services offered in this new world order has yet to be defined and to achieve its full potential.”
Drones: a retail shock
It’s the lack of clarity about what drones can do that Smit finds most interesting. “I am very excited about the potential in the drone industry. The vast majority of Americans believe that drones will play an essential role in the future, but most are still unsure of the role that role will play, which shows us that consumers are ready to embrace this new normal, “says he.
“I come from the retail sector and I am really excited about the prospect that same day delivery of drones in retail stores will become commonplace. I believe retailers with a well-established hub-and-spoke infrastructure are well positioned to overtake some of the leading e-commerce companies that lack the infrastructure to support affordable same-day delivery. It’s exciting to be a part of this concussion where drones play a vital role. “
This move is one of the first things DroneUps new hires will work on. “I’m very focused on refining DroneUp’s delivery model for retail. That is why we think about the drone airport, drone and software systems required for large scale deliveries from multiple locations and select the best strategic partners in each area. “
Miriam McNabb is editor-in-chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a marketplace for professional drone services, and a fascinating observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Miriam has written over 3,000 articles focusing on the commercial drone space and is an international speaker and recognized figure in the industry. Miriam graduated from the University of Chicago and has over 20 years experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.
For advice or writing on the drone industry, email Miriam.
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