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Amazon killed off its Dash Buttons yesterday. The only real surprise was that the company took so long to do so: almost four years.
When Amazon launched Dash Buttons on March 31, 2015, we thought the product was an early April Fools’ joke. And in our review a few months later, we again called Dash Buttons a gimmick. Dash Buttons were supposed to help people reorder items that needed frequent replenishing — paper towels, toilet paper, laundry detergent, and so on. They cost $5 — reimbursed after your first purchase — and were made available from more than 150 brands.
To be fair, the company shipped millions of the buttons. But that’s not because they were so useful. They were cheap and paid for themselves, and brands naturally wanted “buy now” ads in people’s homes.
The product itself, however, made no sense. If Dash Buttons had launched before the existence of the internet, online shopping, and virtual buttons, this would be a different story. But the Dash Button was merely a physical button that did what many virtual buttons already could.
In fact, it did what you could already do without a button at all. More than four months before Dash Buttons arrived, Amazon had unveiled the Echo smart speaker.
Alexa is the real reason for the Dash Button’s demise. Every Dash Button press is an Amazon.com order that could have been made on your computer, your smartphone, or better yet, via Alexa.
When you need to reorder something, chances are your computer is nearby or your phone is on your person. But even if that’s not the case, Alexa is just a yell away. And if it’s not, Amazon would kindly like to encourage you to purchase one of the countless Alexa-powered products it and its partners have launched.
Dash Buttons were dumb. Alexa is smart. Next!
ProBeat is a column in which Emil rants about whatever crosses him that week.
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