Photo: Courtesy of Forbes
As a father of five, I’ve made more than my fair share of begrudgingly late night convenience store diaper runs. So when Amazon started shipping their Dash Buttons this week, they had my attention. Amazon’s Dash Replenishment service takes a literal approach to the push button economy. Most of us have become familiar with the wonders of Amazon Prime’s free two-day shipping, but the latest approach places a product specific button precisely at the location you realize you need something. See that you’re out, or soon will be, and just press a button. Your home’s Wifi notifies Amazon of you’re looming unmet needs and poof, a box arrives at your doorstep. Now I can’t say that before Dash buttons I knew of the pain-point of not having to open my computer and use Amazon’s already awesome one-click ordering, but hey- if Huggies are available at the touch of a button, I’m in.
At $4.99 a button, I couldn’t resist choosing two highly sought after items in my house, razor blades and diapers. My first glance at the packaging left me so impressed that I didn’t want to open them. After all, this was the intersection of the doorbell and a mobile app, but I finally tore into them and setup the Wifi using my smart phone. Next up, peel and stick just at the place where you know you need something. The only thing left to do was run out, which lasted all of 30 seconds. I couldn’t resist, I had to push the button. And what happened as I signaled a warehouse hundreds of miles away of my pending need for new razors…? Nada, zip, not even a gratifying ding-dong to let me know satellites were tracking my instant gratifications. No more than a quick blink of a green LED and a nondescript cardboard box that should be on my porch in 1-2 days.
I couldn’t help but think that this technology felt like a bridge. You know, the innovation that comes out and isn’t so innovative, but more of a preview to upcoming tech. Its technology that falls between the cracks of two larger, even better ideas. So I’m a big fan of Amazon Prime and their free two-day shipping. But there’s something that seems a little antiquated about placing product-endorsed buttons all over my house. I want a smart washing machine that knows I’m low on detergent and orders it for me. If time is the new currency, then give me a smoke detector that automatically sends me batteries when they need replacing. I love what the Dash is attempting, but shouldn’t all of our devices be smarter? I don’t know if the Amazon Dash will grow to be considered a bridge or a conduit that drives innovation in smart devices. But for now I think I’ll hold out for the smart device and not the smart button. Until then, the so-called button of the push button economy will remain the click of my mouse.
Post Written by Blue Crump, Current MPI Student