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Technology16 May 2016

When a good idea falls into the chasm of bad execution 

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In one of his last podcasts Between Worlds futurist Mike Walsh talked to Henry Mason, head of Trendwatching.com. He praised the idea of the simplicity of the design of devices that Amazon has implemented  while creating the famous Dash button. Mason drew attention to the minimalist design of the device, but most of all complimented the ease of purchase “on-demand”. This conversation reminded me that since Amazon’s magic button appeared on the market in the US – premiered a year ago – I have always had a lot of objections to that kind of solution. Thus, I find it hard to agree with the views of Henry Mason.

Dash is a product that initially seemed to be a joke. This feeling was intensified by the fact that his debut took place just before last year’s April Fool’s Day. Unfortunately that was not a joke. Amazon Dash was created. Although, it is still difficult for me to understand what for? Especially bearing in mind the fact, that Amazon has a project Echo, which allows you to order products using voice commands. Dash customer purchase a button connecting to the Wi-Fi, permanently assigned to one of more than 100 brands.

Clicking creates an immediate order of a particular product and delivery to your home. At the moment it is not possible to reprogram the device to purchase with its use any product from Amazon.

From the aesthetic point of view, Dash represents a category of the worst product designs I’ve known, which additionally impose a permanent brand advertising. By design, the button should remain almost always in sight, while its front covers the whole logo of one hundred companies. A real tribute to the secrecy. When analyzing the functionality of this device, it is difficult to understand the validity of the purchase of the coarse piece of simple technology for $ 5, just to use it for one task (but this may change soon). Very occasionally. In order to be objective I tried to find the pros of the use of this button. The most important is to facilitate the rapid purchase for the sick, without a driving license or living on the outskirts of the city. However, this still does not defend the idea of a product that allows a single purchase and delivery of only one product, one brand.

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While a button of this type, placed out of sight can still be explained, the apartment filled with its multiple loses on aesthetics and is – in my opinion – caricature of a smart home, convenience and simplicity. Dash not only affects the realm of visual space we inhabit, but also spoils the residents. The offer of apparent ease of buying, closes the daily life of the customer in constant circulation of the purchasing. Moreover, the functioning of the button, and then execution of the order is often only an illusion of comfort and satire on the product itself. Imagine a button ordering a drink Gatorade when you are thirsty (it’s in the offer). After placing an order you drink it in about … 48 hours. So much in fact it may take the delivery of the products through Amazon. Is not it better to just go to the store and buy it?

Amazon offered more similar facilities, what may be the reason of rare use of the button by the buyers. Slice Intelligence research company recently provided data, which show that less than 50% of Dash users made any purchase with its use. However, in general terms, key buyers use it averagely once every two months. Why am I not surprised?

The global expansion of other similar devices, lying at the intersection of the Internet of Things and things not necessarily needed, in the long run can lead to numerous negative consequences. Beginning with the deepening of the consumer apathy, through the loss of orientation in the prices of daily use products, to the disappearance of sales and promotions in stores ending.

Today’s world is filled with technology platforms, offering everything on demand. If there is a repetitive process that can be automated, offering apparent facilitation, sooner or later someone will offer this service to us. We seek to convenience, so we are constantly looking for the convenient way of doing shopping, which is increasingly likely to end with home delivery, even at the expense of higher prices. The question is how much in common has the desire for comfortable buying with maximizing the efficiency of our purchasing and how much with laziness rising in society?

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