"Amazon Prime Now" Delivers in One Hour or Less, But Only in New York

Here's a question for you: how fast to you want, nay, demand your deliveries to get to your house? Until about three days ago, I would've said that an overnight package was the most, and truly best anyone could hope for, but now, I'm not so sure. That's because Amazon is launching a new delivery service — in just one zip code New York City so far, so too bad for all the rest of us — that's offering speedy delivery on a scale I never could've imagined. It's called Amazon Prime Now, and it delivers in one hour or less. One hour? Yup, one hour.

For the time being, this'll only be an available option if you're in Manhattan. Which makes sense — given the lofty delivery time goal, you couldn't get away with having the delivery range too wide, at least until enough new warehousing locations are opened to facilitate. According to the Wall Street Journal, over 25,000 items are available to order right this instant if you're in the right part of Manhattan, and if you're an Amazon Prime member, which entails a $99 annual membership fee.

And apparently it really works! According to Engadget's Devindra Hardawar, she had a trove of candy delivered in just 21 minutes, albeit from a distribution center a mere six blocks away. Basically, it's like taking the kinds of stuff you'd normally order off Amazon and cutting delivery times down to pizzeria levels — complete with the responsibility to tip, with the app suggesting $5.

Perhaps the key to making Prime Now worthwhile to Amazon comes with the tiered pricing system, about as simple as it gets — if you want delivery within one hour, it runs an extra $7.99 delivery charge, which is significant, though well within the acceptable ranger for an urgent impulse buy. If you're willing to wait up to two hours, however, you don't have to pay any extra charge, which is undoubtedly the best options for anybody with some forward-thinking frugality.

I'm fully willing to concede that this may be of limited utility, when it's all said and done. Every now and then somebody makes a new foray into the world of online deliveries, and sometimes they fall flat — Amazon themselves have been pushing for the use of delivery drones, a proposition which has encountered some opposition amongst the American public, as well as regulatory obstacles with the FAA.

But Prime Now, at least this early, severely limited iteration, has gone 180 degrees the opposite way, embracing a decidedly low-tech vision of rapid delivery — bike messengers. Probably not a solution for Prime Now's expansion anywhere but the densest and most traffic-prone of cities, but it's still a compelling model for any metropolis big enough to justify multiple distribution points.

Anyways, if you're going to be spending any time in the 10001 zip code anytime soon, you ought to give this a try! And remember, if you have the foresight to order a little early in advance, you can avoid that $7.99 fee — smart shopping is happy shopping, after all.