Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
Amazon Dash Button (amazon.com)
745 points by digitalmud on Mar 31, 2015 | hide | past | web | favorite | 683 comments

Harper's Magazine, September 1996:

> From an interview with Kurt Vonnegut in the November 1995 issue of Inc. Technology. Vonnegut was asked to discuss his feelings about living in an increasingly computerized world.

>> I work at home, and if I wanted to, I could have a computer right by my bed, and I'd never have to leave it. But I use a typewriter, and afterward I mark up the pages with a pencil. Then I call up this woman named Carol out in Woodstock and say, “Are you still doing typing?” Sure she is, and her husband is trying to track bluebirds out there and not having much luck, and so we chitchat back and forth, and I say, “Okay, I'll send you the pages.” Then I go down the steps and my wife calls, “Where are you going?” “Well,” I say, “I'm going to buy an envelope.” And she says, “You're not a poor man. Why don't you buy a thousand envelopes? They'll deliver them, and you can put them in the closet.” And I say, “Hush.” So I go to this newsstand across the street where they sell magazines and lottery tickets and stationery. I have to get in line because there are people buying candy and all that sort of thing, and I talk to them. The woman behind the counter has a jewel between her eyes, and when it's my turn, I ask her if there have been any big winners lately. I get my envelope and seal it up and go to the postal convenience center down the block at the corner of Forty-seventh Street and Second Avenue, where I'm secretly in love with the woman behind the counter. I keep absolutely poker-faced; I never let her know how I feel about her. One time I had my pocket picked in there and got to meet a cop and tell him about it. Anyway, I address the envelope to Carol in Woodstock. I stamp the envelope and mail it in a mailbox in front of the post office, and I go home. And I've had a hell of a good time. I tell you, we are here on Earth to fart around, and don't let anybody tell you any different.

In reality, this man of privilege bounds into the store on a cloud of positivity, only to be met by the sullen face behind the counter, 12 hours into a double shift on a day that she wasn't even supposed to be here. At the Postal Convenience Center, the object of his affection barely registers his presence because she is fears going home to her abusive boyfriend who is probably halfway in the bag already. When the letter arrives at Woodstock, Carol has to go through the painstaking trouble of scanning in his chicken scratch, and she'll spend the weekend fixing that which OCR cannot unearth.

The whimsy of Vonnegut betrays the truth that too many of us suffer from too little time in the day to create genuine, shareable moments with one another. Technology can help beat back that tide by simplifying the tedious, and little by little, we may find ourselves making time to be more present in our everyday lives.

Technology should be celebrated, and not feared.

Why don't we have more free time?

It is precisely the post-industrialized culture of consumption, and economy of progress that is robbing individuals of our free time.

When did laundry and cooking and doing work at home cease to be a social function and instead move into the sphere of "work"?

http://www.zpub.com/notes/idle.html http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Original_affluent_society

> When did laundry and cooking and doing work at home cease to be a social function and instead move into the sphere of "work"?

Do you realize that you're basically implying that housewifes were chilling at home while their husbands were doing the real work? Home work has always been real work, but us men didn't really feel it before we had to do more of it due to gender equality.

I didn't mean to communicate this.

housework is indeed real work, real labor. But post-industrialized societies have worked to strip joy from all chores. The idea of of a housewife is a good example of this — A woman alone in a house cooking for another person, cleaning a vast amount of things that endlessly collect dirt. So long as we don't reach the singularity there will be chores to do, mouths to feed and things to clean. Is it easier to spend all our waking hours devising "technologies" to "simplify" life or is it easier to re-evaluate what a simple life is and embrace that labor is a part of life.

Definitively devising technologies. I don't envy my great-grandparents lives in their pre-industrialized society. The idea that chores were generally a joyful activity sounds like rose-colored glasses to me. And the idea of the housewife is much, much older than industrialization.

And, now, we've traded that for an economic reality where having one person stay at home to mind the house/family/etc. is simply economically infeasible without significant compromises for most families (and one-income families, by extension, are pushed to make those compromises without option).

Don't confuse the two issues here – the ability to let one person stay home, in a traditional 2-parent household was a great thing. Expecting that to always be done and always be a woman was terrible and sexist.

But, now, are we really saying the "liberated housewives" are any more free? They're even more constrained by the need to earn a paycheck so that their families can remain at the same level as their parents or grandparents were able to achieve on one income. Yes, they're on closer (but not equal) footing with men, but I don't think I'd really say we've increased the freedom of anyone here.

>Why don't we have more free time?

Than we did historically? We do.

Things that I am forced to do, I do not consider "free time", although for some reason anti-technologists like to consider at-home labor to be "free time", so they can make it look like pre-industrialization people had less work than we do today.

That said, with every passing year there is measurably less stuff that I have to waste time doing, mostly thanks to the power of the internet.

The question I'm trying to raise is why we consider all the little things necessary for living to be a "waste of time."

There's a sad irony in the image of first world citizen who can't waste time cooking so they consume large amounts highly processed ready-made food from places like trader joe's and sits down to watch Game of Thrones for three hours and browse pinterest.

>There's a sad irony in the image of first world citizen who can't waste time cooking so they consume large amounts highly processed ready-made food from places like trader joe's and sits down to watch Game of Thrones for three hours and browse pinterest.

Alternatively, I don't waste time cooking and instead spend that time eating with friends at a restaurant and not having anyone burdened by the cleanup afterwards (well except for the staff paid to do so).

strictly speaking, the only thing that's necessary is for me to have food in my stomach. A lot of people enjoy cooking (and I have the luxury of being able to do so with close friends sometimes), but there's little point in romanticizing me heating some water and pouring in pasta in a bowl when I'm by myself. As others have said, a lot of people don't have the luxury of being able to make i.e. cooking and cleaning a social activity.

Beyond the whole socio-economic "guy/gal working 2 jobs" thing (Why do we think working 2 full-time jobs solely to survive is OK?!) , there's even the "person who doesn't really have many friends at the moment". I know some people who find themselves in such situations after moving to a different country for example.

As for things like cleaning, I think the meta-solution to that is to live in a small place and not own many things. Gives me more time to watch game of thrones (or browse HN ;))

Why do you think that cooking is objectively better than having an expert do the cooking for you?

Many people enjoy e.g. watching TV than cooking, and there's nothing wrong with that. More power to them.

I'll ask you a simple question - Do you have to work to eat and have a shelter? Well technologically we are advanced enough to feed 10 billion people and provide free shelter to everyone on earth. The amount India's prime minister spend on his campaign could educate every Indian child for free!

Due to a broken governance model that the world uses, we have poverty; technology is already advanced enough that most of us don't even need a job. Humanity is producing enough for everyone's need (but not greed, like gandhi said) but we haven't a fair distribution. Getting a job is our way of distribution of wealth.

Some argue that the washing machine was the greatest invention of the industrial revolution[1], because it freed up the time traditionally spent by half the worlds population to do more productive tasks, such as learn to read.

Female literacy levels is a good leading indicator of social and economic development[2].

[1] http://www.businessinsider.com.au/hans-rosling-washing-machi...

[2]] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Socioeconomic_impact_of_female_...

Doing laundry and cooking is life maintainance, it isn't life. I'd rather spend more time driving a car than lubing and fixing it, and I'd rather spend more time doing shit that I want to do than doing annoying stuff that is just necessary to keep me going.

What makes parts of your life annoying?

Well, technology isn't necessarily causing consumption. In fact, things like VR headsets can reduce consumption.

The research and development of VR headsets requires a vast system of consumption from the mines required for precious metals to the logistics systems required for transporting components to refining petroleum products used in the manufacturing of these products.

Don't assume that a more vast and complex system is necessarily more wasteful.

Let's get some data in here?

"The whimsy of Vonnegut betrays the truth that too many of us suffer from too little time in the day to create genuine, shareable moments with one another." - Is this an absolute truth? Maybe the point is that we should work towards having more of this whimsical time, instead of submitting to the unnatural bustle of modern life and pressing buttons for more fucking laundry detergent.

No existential truth is absolute. Vonnegut's position of privilege at the time of the writing certainly provided him with a better ability to revel in the finer things life has to offer. Not everyone in this world of ours is lucky enough to have this luxury.

I disagree that modern life is somehow unnatural or participating in it requires some form of submission. Providing for our needs in a more convenient fashion is one of the pillars of civilization.

So according to your logic, a person requires a level of success approximately on par with a Vonnegut to appreciate an errand to the post office? Anyone significantly less successful than him can't consider the possibility of a leisurely stroll?

I understand that not everyone in this world has the luxury of free time, but if one has the ability to shop on Amazon, making time away from work and the internet is almost definitely an option. It's thinking like that which will hurtle us towards an Idiocracy-like reality.

> The whimsy of Vonnegut betrays the truth that too many of us suffer from too little time in the day to create genuine, shareable moments with one another.

Except that so many of those genuine moments can't be created with any sort of precision. They happen exactly because they are outside of what was planned.

We suffer from a lack of time because we have too much crap planned or demanded of us. Abstracting away all the small things sounds wonderful, but it's exactly that pursuit of efficiency above all else that is killing us.

I was going to say "must not have kids", but I like your version better.

That's a neat quote. I read it in Harper's back in 1996 and it has really stuck with me.

I feel like it describes some of my days pretty well. But another part of me thinks he's writing from a very privileged position, and doesn't (want to) recognize it.

Indeed. The implication that everyone could be 'farting around' and still have an internet-using, nuclear-war-avoiding, space-traveling society is inaccurate. That's not to say everyone always has to do difficult work. But sometimes some people do and they should be celebrated for doing that hard part.

Only some people can fart around all of the time, but everyone can fart around some of the time.

> Indeed. The implication that everyone could be 'farting around' and still have an internet-using, nuclear-war-avoiding, space-traveling society is inaccurate.

Quite the opposite I think. Our machines can 'already' work well enough to provide free food, shelter and education to every person on earth. Even still, we produce food for 10B people yet hunger is a problem.

If everyone was given free food, shelter and education, then everyone would fart around and get bored until some of them hackers gather to build a space-ship and others join in. Utopia? probably. But the real problem is broken distribution model which real means broken governance model.

I would not say it's clear that we can provide 'food' 'education' and 'shelter' for everyone. For starters, those are categories and say nothing about the quality of food, education, or shelter.

Secondly, are you sure all work can be done by currently-existing machines and people willing to do that work for fun? For example, maintenance on a broken sewage system. I think there's going to be some jobs that machines can't yet do, no one wants to do, and yet still need to be done.

But, what about Dicking Around?


Did I miss some huge event when going out to buy an enveloped is being in a privileged position?

Structuring your whole afternoon as make-work so you can continue to mail pages to a typist is, yes, privileged.

This fact works counter to the studied "just a dude out observing the fullness of humanity" vibe of the paragraph.

So for me the piece is very unstable, tilting back and forth between these two poles. Perhaps that's why I remembered it across 20 years.

Having copious free time has always been a privileged position. The extent to which you can waste time is a direct expressino of privilege.

>> One of capitalism's most durable myths is that it has reduced human toil. This myth is typically defended by a comparison of the modern forty-hour week with its seventy- or eighty-hour counterpart in the nineteenth century. The implicit -- but rarely articulated -- assumption is that the eighty-hour standard has prevailed for centuries. The comparison conjures up the dreary life of medieval peasants, toiling steadily from dawn to dusk. We are asked to imagine the journeyman artisan in a cold, damp garret, rising even before the sun, laboring by candlelight late into the night.

>> These images are backward projections of modern work patterns. And they are false. Before capitalism, most people did not work very long hours at all. The tempo of life was slow, even leisurely; the pace of work relaxed. Our ancestors may not have been rich, but they had an abundance of leisure. When capitalism raised their incomes, it also took away their time. Indeed, there is good reason to believe that working hours in the mid-nineteenth century constitute the most prodigious work effort in the entire history of humankind.


I don't see any discussion vis-a-vis the whole decades that we know spend not working, ie., childhood and retirement. My grandmothers haven't worked a single day (barring small chores) for the last 20+ years. I only started really working 23 years after I was born. I doubt any of this was true during the middle ages.


Its the fundamental sub-particle of privledge; might not have any mass but it still smells and looks like overpriced coffee and arrogance.

If a neutrino is a little neutral one, I'd like to think that an expressino is a tiny expression, in this case of privilege.

Congrats, you caught a transposed character in an HN comment. Sometimes, I don't care enough about these comments to exhaustivley spell check them. I guess I don't have the time. Maybe you should chekc your privilege.

I wouldn't worry too much about chekcing anything. You've possibly started a meme with "expressino". I shall be using it.

Oh, and it's also remarkably close to this [1], which I didn't know about until now, and now want to try. Thanks for your accidental character transposition. It has led to good things.

[1]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Espressino

LOL, not at all. It's a great thing. It's a new word as far as I'm concerned and I'm dedicating my life to making it A Thing (TM).

Or welfare. Don't forget about welfare.

1. If we're here to fart around, the Internet can make us much more productive at that.

2. The sibling that notes Vonnegut's privileged: Probably. But something tells me so are most of the Amazon Prime members. http://www.marketingcharts.com/online/amazon-attracting-high...

3. I loved walking and commuting on the T in Boston. I got time to watch or interact with people. Being present in the world is a form of productivity for anyone creating things for people.

>Being present in the world is a form of productivity for anyone creating things for people.

Beautifully said.

I wish my errands were that eventful, but they just feel like chores. Give me a button to press away my chores and I'll spend my outgoing time at the pub with friends.

> I wish my errands were that eventful, but they just feel like chores.

Keep in mind the excerpt you just read was written by a professional writer. A good one at that. I can't quite put my finger on it, but it's got a quality where even if nobody told you it was written by a writer, you could just tell.

No flowery prose. Just simple description. But highlighting many little things and quirks that most people leave out of descriptions of events. Without those, his errand reads a bit like this: "I write on a typewriter. When I'm done I mark it up in pencil, then I ask a freelance typist if she's got time to do a clean manuscript for me. Then I have to go down to the newsstand to buy an envelope to send it off in. I like the roundabout way of doing it"

Not quite as fun is it?

edit: the style reminds me a lot of reading Gaiman's blogposts about his life

This is why Vonnegut is my favorite writer. I would read a 500 page novel about paint drying on a wall if he had written it. I'm sure every sentence would be entertaining.

There was an interview or podcast (some sort of video) with Ira Glass about this same idea. He describes a man waking up and getting coffee, the most mundane activities, with incredible suspense. You really have to appreciate that sort of ability. It's not even apparent until someone else points out how boring it would be if stated differently.

Here is another good example of that in a different medium: http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/beatles/adayinthelife.html

>I wish my errands were that eventful, but they just feel like chores.

"Attitude is the difference between an adventure and an ordeal," said somebody wiser than I.

I really like that excerpt. I had never read it before so thank you for posting it. I share the same feelings.

I also realized one day that certain errands were opportunities to go out that I welcomed. And of course when I don't use Amazon I can get something faster, too, but that's just a side benefit.

>I tell you, we are here on Earth to fart around, and don't let anybody tell you any different.

Easy to say that, sitting on a Hugo award and the subsequent career of Kurt Vonnegut.

And the funny thing, as guy in the IT department, is people come to fart around (Vonnegut's sense, not literally) in our office and chat us up. I get the best of both worlds! Computer at my fingertips, and travel through novice conversationalism!

| and when it's my turn, I ask her if there have been any big winners lately.

So, were there any???

This makes me envious of you Americans.

Here in Norway online shopping involves finding an online store that sells what you need (there's no site that sells everything, like Amazon, here), going through a cumbersome sign-up/payment process, paying a lot of money for the shipping costs, waiting several days and having to go to the post office unless the package is really small (or if you're willing to pay even more for premium shipping).

I really don't get why so many people here dislike the idea behind Dash Button. Buying essential shit isn't fun, it's a burden that needs to be done. I can't understand why removing the hassle of purchasing stuff like toilet paper and detergent is "dystopian consumer hell". Dystopian consumer hell is what we have here in Norway, where we need to physically go to the store and buy the same stuff over and over and over again.

I think it's ridiculous just because it clearly involved a lot of effort to solve a problem that doesn't really need solving. The choice isn't between a button and the massive hassle you describe. The choice is between a button and ordering the product on your smartphone in ten seconds, or picking up the product at the grocery store the next time you're there.

How often do you need laundry detergent? Every two weeks? If this button saves you ten seconds each time, that's a total of 4.3 minutes per year saved. And that assumes you buy the stuff one at a time instead of getting a bunch at once.

Amazon as a whole is great because you can use it for so much stuff. Saving time on a rare purchase is almost pointless, but saving time on all your rare purchases put together can be significant. But this button thingy is inherently single-product.

This is basically the ordering-side equivalent of when you buy three small items from Amazon and they get shipped to you in three separate gigantic boxes filled with vast amounts of padding. Maybe it makes sense when you see the big picture, but I can't help but scream "why??"

This button isn't about saving time, it's about preventing the instances of not having something when you need it. The moment when you realize you need more of something is typically when you're using it. If you can literally just hit a button to order more, that's a significant change from having to do something else to order more.

> This button isn't about saving time

... it's about creating a barrier to exit so that your customers won't comparison shop for different brands of detergent.

The increased switching cost isn't by force, though. Customers are less likely to switch because of convenience -- you're paying for the conveniene which, I think, means that Amazon is providing a service that consumers want.

Naturally. I'm just saying a few months down the road, you forget to care exactly how much that convenience is costing you.

I never care. I don't comparison shop. I always tick the "Prime only" button, even if it costs me extra. It's one of the nice luxuries of earning enough money that prices for consumables generally does not matter.

I don't know what the things I used in the dinner I just prepared costs. I only know roughly how much my weekly grocery bill comes to (it's all delivered - the order is auto-populated by Ocado's algorithms, so if I don't do anything I get a reasonable default set of products based on what I usually buy). And I like it that way.

You're living post-scarcity. Let's hope everyone will be able to, at some point.

Everyone who pays $100/year to get free two-day shipping for Amazon products lives post-scarcity.

Exactly. The ability to just tap some buttons on your phone and have an item show up doorstep is magical. The dash button is just another step in that direction. Its ultimate in convenience for people who want it.

No, that's easily solved: you can set the product the button purchases (obviously), and the day after the API is made available a zillion little intercept-button-push-then-scrap-n-compare projects will pop-up on HN that find you the lowest priced product just in time when you push the button.

It said in the video that you can choose what the button puchases. So, you can switch as much as you want. It may be a barrier to using something other than amazon, but you could make time to check to see if there are better deals and then switch the API call.

Some people seem to be missing the point and I don't blame you because brands are given a lot of protagonism in their announcement. But I think the presence of renowned/popular brands in their announcement is just marketing collateral as part of a bit more complex marketing strategy that involved partnerships, and that might be confusing for anyone if deeper thought is not involved.

IMHO the essence of this product is neither about enforcing brand loyalty nor saving time.

1- Brand loyalty benefits well established brands, yes, so amazon probably got big companies on board by offering brand placement on their marketing material among other benefits.

2- Saving time (and cognitive flow/energy) benefits consumers, yes. There is some risk to follow brand reputation instead of product quality, agree, but that is a manageable risk, so amazon can potentially get consumers on board.

The essence and reason of why this product/service came to be, answers to one question only; 'How does amazon benefit?' and it is brilliant.

From my POV this little button is not just a way to introduce an enhanced experience to an existing and growing consumer behavior[1] that would result in greater sales for amazon; more than a product they introduced a service/platform[2] that can be seamlessly integrated to new home appliances, so amazon is effectively expanding its presence into a diverse and conveniently positioned custom/customizable 'points of sale' inside people's homes, making itself more and more ubiquitous as time goes by and more companies and individual innovators adopt their new service/platform, and their investment to accomplish this was little compared to the alternative of investing in manufacturing their own home appliances, but that's not brilliant, that's only natural and expected from a company like amazon.

It also places amazon's brand on not all but many people's minds as a high-tech high-quality home appliances brand by association to the actual home appliances brands, and amazon is not really manufacturing that kind of hardware (...yet), that's the brilliant part (an opportunity that they may or may never exploit, either because non-compete agreements or because it wouldn't make sense for their business plans or because Jeff Bezos decides not to because reasons, an opportunity nonetheless).

[1]: https://www.quora.com/What-is-the-future-of-food-delivery-1/... [2]: https://www.amazon.com/oc/dash-replenishment-service

Precisely. Everybody here is talking about the button, but for Amazon this is about selling zillions of these buttons to product manufactures and achieving lock-in.

Its about the API and what new purchasing flows will be created by eager startups, resulting in new MRR for Amazon.

My problem is with some items that I buy only twice a month, like bath soap or mayonnaise. I notice that it's about get empty (or it's already empty :() and I put them in my mental to-buy list. If I'm lucky I'll remember them the next time that I go to the supermarket. And probably also the following time and a few more times until I realize that I got a lot of it and I remove the item from the list. So I don't have to buy them for a few weeks...

I really like that it ignores the repeated pushes.

> Unless you elect otherwise, Dash Button responds only to your first press until your order is delivered.

I switched to buying things of this nature in bulk. You're more prone to ordering more of something if you realize you're down to the last 3 out of 10. That gives you 3 more tries to make sure you order it.

I don't have space in my apartment for three of everything.

Your point is my solution doesn't work for you because it would require you to purchase three of everything you would ever purchase? What an odd way to live your life.

I do something similar except that I use an app (AnyList) rather than keeping a mental list. Better yet the app is shared with my fiance. Whichever of us is next in the store (usually me) can be sure to get everything.

Another good use case is that I can head to the store as soon as I realize we're out of something, and by the time I get there, the list has everything else that she thought of.

I buy those things like...once every 3 months

I'm pretty sure my jar of mayo has lasted me for, like, a year.

Actually, it's about a vendor making sure you buy their brand (again) when you need to fill up instead of going to the store and looking at the 50 choices in the detergent aisle one more time.

Really? Lots of people regularly switching their detergent?

Yes, really.

Do this: pretend you own Tide. Do you want people pressing a button that sends you money for more tide, or do you want them going here: https://www.google.com/search?q=laundry+aisle&espv=2&biw=144...

Oh yea. Commodities. Competing to win marginally against a well-known set of consumer value drivers.

This. The primary purpose is to avoid the pain of not having what you need, and the arguments and bad mood that follows, simply because you didn't add something to a list or thought you would remember to buy but didn't

Never mind the time saving, what's the real time cost? How long does the battery last? How do you know when it fails? How exploitable is it? How do I do security updates?

Apparently carrying one's phone in one's pocket is less common than I thought.

Pressing a button is milliseconds, and can be done as a complete afterthought, while still doing your current task. Taking out your phone, navigating to a website and placing an order means you have to stop what you are doing, and do something else.

When the time to complete tasks changes by an order of magnitude - even going from seconds down to milliseconds - our behavior tends to change. We easily accept this notion with developer related tasks such as compiling and testing. I don't see a difference here.

Imagine if developers only built and tested once or twice a month.

Now I come out with a new product where the entire pitch is, that build-and-compile you do once or twice a month now takes one second instead of ten! Oh, and it only works for one project. If you work on multiple projects, buy multiple products.

Would this be worthwhile? I don't see it.

Developer tasks like compiling and testing benefit from small efficiency gains because we do them constantly. Or the efficiency gains allow us to move from a model where we do them rarely to a model where we do them constantly. Neither one applies here. You won't buy detergent any more frequently with this button, and it's not something you do often.

I won't buy detergent more frequently, but because it's easier, I'm more likely to be in a situation where I actually have it where I need it. If I could buy either at the moment I realize I'm about to run out, I would. Instead, I have to remember when I'm out at the grocery store, and I often forget, and then end up having to make a special trip the next day just to pick up that one thing.

It's not just about time saved. I tend to forget things I don't do often, so I automate them, even though setting up the automation might take more time than it will save me. As soon as the automation is set up, I no longer need to worry about it, and next time I can just push the button.

Phones are annoying, and the UI of most apps is user-hostile. Here are the equivalent steps you have to do to accomplish the same thing as this button does:

    - Wipe your hands from moisture/whatever you had on them.
    - Find your phone in your pocket.
    - Orient it.
    - Unlock it.
    - Exit whatever app you left running in the foreground.
    - Open the app drawer.
    - Find the ordering app.
    - Click through several layers of UI to get to the right product.
And only now you're in the same position as after just pressing a button. This is a significant cognitive load. When I realize I need to order something, I want to order it, not navigate through countless steps. Having to do more than two actions is too much.

Exactly, a cellphone app can get the job done but it is a great cognitive deviation from whatever task you had at hand at the moment you realize you ran out of something(1). So amazon's dash button is not an innovation on getting something done, but get it done faster and more conveniently, and that alone makes sense for an enterprise whose profit depends greatly from understanding consumer behavior. So I agree with TeMPOraL, it is not ridiculous at all.

And there's a bigger picture outside of comparing the convenience between using this little button as opposed to mobile apps, but that's off topic for this branch of the conversation, if you're interested IMHO & my brief reasoning, read this other brach[2] (also because DRY).

(1): Optimally you realize you are about to run out of something before it happens. [2]: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=9299505

I, for one, don't have my phone handy when I'm doing laundry in my pajamas, or while shaving in my bathrobe.

You have probably never worn women's jeans. They have ridiculously small pockets, barely big enough to squeeze my S5 into.

The product is designed for the future, not for the past. In the past, people were always going to the grocery store, so you could grab what you need "when you're there".

I live in silicon valley where all these new delivery services are being tested, and I almost never go to the store. Google Shopping Express delivers non-perishable groceries to my home within 24 hours, Instacart delivers fresh groceries within 2 hours, and Amazon delivers everything else I need within 2 days. I really want to sign up for Amazon Fresh because they deliver perishables and everything else same day, but it's a little pricey.

I hate going to the store now (especially since our local market isn't very nice - I love a good market). For me it is a big chore. I work from home so I'm rarely even "driving by" the market.

Amazon, google, and others want to enable a world where no one goes to the store (and we all order from them). It's nice not having to go to the store. Your cute calculation of 4.3 minutes saved is making assumptions that totally don't apply to people like me. I don't want to take a 30 minute experience and shave ten seconds off, I want to eliminate the trips to the store entirely.

It's fine if you don't see the need for new products, but just because you don't see the need doesn't mean there isn't one. Not saying this product has a need (I feel like I can use my smartphone) but you've completely missed the big picture of deliveries for everything. In San Francisco you can get a bento box delivered in 15 minutes for $12, and I just got a flyer for dinners delivered starting at $8.

Everyone wants to do deliveries, and once they're done by robot it will be so cheap we'll all have it.

I totally understand delivery for everything. I want it.

What I don't understand is button-for-delivery for uncommonly ordered items.

You want to order detergent online? Great! Me too! But why do you need a specialized button that only does that? That's the part that makes no sense.

I'll give you an actual scenario, maybe you can relate: One of your kids is sick and yells for attention. You shuffle in the next load of bedcovers into the washing machine while trying to remember to call the doctor for an appointment. The detergent box is near-empty. If you are like me, it could take days until you get the 20s of uninterrupted time to jot down the detergent to your shopping list. Fast forward 1 week. No detergent. You are out of bed covers. The other kid is sick. Someone hands you an Amazon Dash that orders your standard detergent. You break down and cry, thanking that someone for the act of kindness. OK, the last part is exaggerated.

Now what about when the price goes up? Will you ever even notice how much the increase was? Would you have considered switching brands? Or sizes? Did you have time to go through your email receipts, or now that the kid was finally asleep, did you open a beer and sit down with your partner?

I'm guessing that the people using this, and order-everything-online are relatively price insensitive for the types of things this appears to be targeting. Saving $0.30 or even $1-2 probably isn't going to make it worth it for me to reconfigure or find a new brand.

It's also self-selecting: if you ARE searching for the absolutely lowest price, or are price sensitive, you're not the right target audience for this kind of tech or company :)

>> But why do you need a specialized button that only does that? That's the part that makes no sense.

It -does- make sense if you take it as a way to introduce not a product ("specialized button") but a platform[1] for long overdue and much needed innovation that some very influential people have started to fund and promote[2]. It is not the only way to do it, but it is amazon's way to facilitate it and in the process get some market pioneering advantages. A company like amazon doesn't have the infrastructure to start building home appliances but it required little effort for them to contribute in a way that brings them great benefits. Smart move, amazon.

[1]: https://www.amazon.com/oc/dash-replenishment-service [2]: https://www.quora.com/What-is-the-future-of-food-delivery-1/...

The example they use is detergent because showing someone reaching for toilet paper and realizing she needs a refill isn't such an easy commercial to shoot.

So you run out of paper, press the button and, under 2 minutes, an Amazon InstaPaper delivery drone arrives (yes, they bought the service and the brand), entering your apartment thanks to wonders of a cloud-synced Lockitron, and drops the paper next to the toilet door. As it leaves, you're left wondering if maybe it's time to buy that Amazon Echo and have it react to you shouting "OH FK", saving you from having to clean the button...

I just yell over to Alexa (Amazon Echo) to add it to the shopping list.

If you're in the bay, use safeway delivery. They do perishable s, beer, and all.

Instacart does all of those as well.

| but I can't help but scream "why??"

Because it's a tangible reminder that you need to buy new X and it removes all the barriers entirely to that. It's wildly convenient.

Might I remind you:

- Locate mobile device

- Swipe/Unlock mobile device

- Locate Safari App/Amazon app

- Tap and wait for Safari to load

- Access amazon.com

- Type in 'X'

- Locate results and click on option

- Press 'one click purchase' for irony


- Press a button.

Do you really think that ordering something online from the comfort of your couch, in your underwear, is so inconvenient that you need a magic button to press when you run out of laundry detergent? You buy the big jug of high-efficiency stuff that's good for something like 100 loads, that means you need new detergent what, 5 times a year?

Or are you just being hyperbolic?

I don't know about you, but I make a trip to the grocery store about 1.5x every week anyways. I definitely would never use an online food/grocery service; I prefer to see the lettuce I'm buying when I take it off the shelf.

So, given that I'm already at the grocery store something like 80 times a year, and assuming I need to buy more laundry detergent 5 times a year, that's 16 opportunities for me to not pay Amazon shipping and just pick up a jug of detergent when I'm going to be out shopping anyways.

Assuming this isn't an April 1 joke and I just got trolled, hard, this is definitely a solution in search of a problem.

The future is gonna happen whether you're a part of it or not.

So are marketing gimmicks that masquerade as conveniences.

What's your point? Neither of us knows which products are here to stay and which aren't.

Nail on the head.

I'm at the grocery store approximately zero times a year. For me a "summon cat litter" button would be a marked improvement in my life.

Interesting. Do you order groceries online or something?

If so, what happens when, say, your apples come bruised?

> If so, what happens when, say, your apples come bruised?

Me: these apples are bruised

Tesco man: sorry sir, let me refund that straight away. And keep the apples, you could make a pie with them.

Though in five years of online grocery shopping I've only returned a couple of items. The apples have made it all the way unbruised from New Zealand after all, four more miles is nothing.

So in other words, if your apples show up bruised, you're still stuck with bruised apples? And then you have to wait for the new unbruised ones to arrive?

That sounds like a much worse experience than simply going to the market and picking out unbruised apples.

Do you really think that getting a few bruised apples once or twice a year, if that, and keeping them for free when this happens until the replacement comes, is so unacceptable that you need to be going to the grocery store each and every time to handpick and carry carefully your apples back home?

Or are you just being hyperbolic?

Are you asking if I'd rather pay less and get quality fruit every time, or pay more and potentially not get quality fruit every time?

Tough call, but I guess I'd rather pay less and get quality fruit every time.

Shopping takes maximum 45 minutes and I like browsing the different cuts of meat at the market and/or my local butcher.

You tell them, and they refund you, and they look into their operations and figure out how they let bruised apples slip into a customer's order so the problem can be remedied.

But you're still left with bruised apples.

Had you gone to the market you would not have bruised apples.

I value my time more than I value not experiencing the pathetically infinitesimal trauma of the occasional bruised apple (something I experienced not once in the 6 years I lived in Santa Clara and had 100% of my groceries delivered).

And yet somehow, FreshDirect's managed to stay in business since 2002.

When the options are taking the L to Whole Foods vs ordering Fresh Direct, both options suck. Fresh Direct just sucks slightly less.

This is relatively common in the UK. Online grocery shopping is very much mainstream. All of the major supermarkets offer it, plus Ocado which is online only (and the best).

For the Ocado-deprived, the main feature that makes me stick with Ocado is that when I forget to make an order, they pick a set of products based on my purchase history, and delivery it at my usual fixed weekly slot anyway.

It is predictable enough (and with options for "always include" and "never automatically include") that we quite often don't bother adjusting the order.

My grocery shopping have never been less stressful.

We've been using Ocado for the last few weeks as my wife was finding it too much hassle to go to the supermarket with a toddler. It's freed up a lot of time and the service and quality has been excellent.

I hadn't noticed that they help you to remember your order and try to deliver what you normally have. Is this automatic then. What happens if you are out of the country for a couple of weeks?

Is this kind of service not common in the US then? It seems to be massive in the UK now.

Every single invention in the human history has been about making things easy. Including the very invention of the wheel itself.

Did the early humans really need wheels, when they were already fit enough to run and carry weights?

I don't need it. But I'd like to have a dozen or so of them spread around the house near wherever I'm likely to notice I'm out of something.

You may make a trip to the grocery store about 1.5x every week, but I "never" go to the grocery store any more - it's all delivered. I can not imagine going back to shopping in person other than the odd "emergency" purchase.

More importantly to cover the various other uses I could see for this, such as printer toner, just the grocery store would be insufficient.

This is a solution in search of a different demographics than you. Like me.

> Do you really think that ordering something online from the comfort of your couch, in your underwear, is so inconvenient that you need a magic button to press when you run out of laundry detergent?

Maybe that's your daily pattern, but for example in my case, this almost never happens. I just don't sit on my couch thinking about home maintenance; I have too much other, more interesting stuff to do. Phones have really annoying, user-hostile UI, so I don't even use mine much at home. They are good enough for commuting, when I can't really do anything else except maybe read a book, so I schedule tasks I can do from my spartphone for the to/from-work route.

It's mildly convenient. There's nothing wrong with mild conveniences, of course. I love them! But I don't see the point in mild conveniences for something you do 20-30 times a year when it requires dedicated hardware.

If the use case was something like, push this button and dinner arrives, I'd say it's fantastic. If it was something like, push this button on your phone to re-order detergent, I'd say that's pretty sensible. But a physical button to order an infrequently ordered product makes no sense to me.

Even when the price of a physical button is $0?

Even for Amazon it's cheap, and quickly pays for itself.

The line between physical and digital is blurring more every day.

Half of those steps would be eliminated if Amazon would simply add a "favorites" or "regular items" panel to their mobile app, where all the "buttons" for the items you regularly need would be displayed, and you could just tap on one to re-order it. Given the fact that people almost always have their smartphone with them now, having a separate external button for every product is ridiculously redundant.

The time I'm least likely to have my phone with me is when doing things like starting the laundry, or starting the dishwasher, or grabbing the last soda in the fridge, or similar stuff around the house, where I may have left the phone somewhere else in the house.

Pretty much every other time the phone will be in my pocket and the value would be less. But even then it'd mean fishing my phone out, unlocking, starting an app instead of just pushing a button. Not torture by any means, but if I can just stick a button there and not have to think about it again, then awesome.

This does solve a problem, but just not the problem that you are mentioning. It solves Amazon's problem of how to get you to buy more stuff from them.

One of the primary rules of running a business is to make it as easy as possible for people to give you their money. This makes it ridiculously easy.

I'm sure it's great for Amazon when someone gets one of these things. For a relatively small cost, you've likely permanently neutralized all possibility of switching brands or suppliers, and substantially reduced awareness of price increases. From that perspective, this is clearly the product of a diabolical genius mind. I just don't get why anyone else would care....

Sorry, but ordering stuff from Amazon on my iPhone takes way more than 10 seconds. I have to:

1. Find my iPhone (I don't carry it with me around the house)

2. Enter my PIN to unlock it

3. Open Safari

4. Navigate to Amazon.com

5. Type in their search bar and browse through the results

6. Click on the product I want

7. Add it to my cart

8. Go to check out and confirm settings (e.g. delivery speed)

9. Place order

It's actually way more cumbersome than it has to be.

If you use their app instead of their web site, and you order it often, it'll be way faster. Of course, if you don't carry your phone with you then that's not going to work, but it seems like putting your phone in your pocket is a better solution than a specialized single-purpose button widget.

From the description, it sounds like you don't need your phone with you. If it used bluetooth, then I think you would. But it uses wifi. So as long as your phone is on your wifi network, then it should work.

My point is that if you have your phone in your pocket, you can use it to place an order directly, rather than relying on a separate single-purpose widget.

You're making assumptions about what people are wearing around the house that are by no means universal.

> My point is that if you have your phone in your pocket

When I'm in the privacy of my own home, and I'm not expecting guests, you'd be hard pressed to find me dressed at all, let alone in anything that has pockets ;)

Yes. This is truly great design thinking.

But wait, how do you handle nudists?

I'm trying to make a haiku something like this:

Out of clean clothes today,

Also laundry detergent,

Imagine surprise face on UPS man when I open door.

Barely an adult

Push button like a hamster

When I need something

Out of clothes today,

out of detergent, as well.

Hi UPS man.

Never again ask Alexa,

"Get me some clean clothes!"

1. Find my iPhone

From the description of it, I think the button wouldn't work if you don't carry a phone with you, as it depends on it.

I think it does work without your phone on you - it says it uses wifi, so as long as your phone is currently on your wifi network, it sounds like it will work. That should be likely for most people, even if they don't carry their phones with them.

The phone is only required for setup (configuring the button's WiFi connection to your router). Once that is complete, the button talks to your router directly via WiFi, with no phone required.

For things you regularly buy (but not regularly enough to set up a subscription), you can speed that up quite a bit by going to your order history, and using the search field there that searches just within your past orders. Find a prior order for that product and use the "But It Again" button.

Its about how much time it takes less to order from Amazon then it takes to either grab an additional item when you are already at the store, or make a trip to the store just for one item.

"Siri, I need laundry detergent. And twinkies. Lots of twinkies."

There is a better solution than spreading branded landfill buttons across your house!

Wow you are right! It sounds so convenient when you manufacture a description to make it sound like we are currently going through 9 arduous steps instead of opening a website!

I pretty much agree with him. Although I am a smartphone user I don't think they are as practical as usually portrait. I'd rather press a single button on my washing machine to get more detergent than go through the hassle of pulling my phone, unlocking it, trying to type into an on-screen keyboard (where I'll get it wrong 4 times) etc etc. Actually, I HATE pulling my phone to look stuff up on it, it's usually a huge hassle caused by the combination of shitty wait times til things happen (not just connecting to stuff - why do I have to watch a 0.5s animation of stuff sliding or fading for everything I want to do on it?) + clumsy fingers.

It's not about opening a website, its about having technology integrated into your workflow such that you don't have to use a computer to finish a task.

There was an article posted about usage of bands in Disney world. The idea is to have technology integrated with you such that the idea of interacting with a generic computer shouldn't exist.

what about the consequences of "streamlining" all these activities? We will create tons of disposable, one-purpose devices to add "convenience" to our life?

Regardless of whether the 9 steps I listed are arduous, the fact stands that ordering some friggin' laundry detergent should not require 9 steps.

> I think it's ridiculous

Amazon have had a few "ridiculous" ideas (e.g. drone delivery, 1 hour delivery, pre-emptive shipping). I think they know these ideas are a stretch but it gets people thinking in a new way and out of it there may be a few more solid ideas. Product marketing by annealing if you will.

I agree. I see why they do it. But that doesn't mean some of the ideas aren't ridiculous all the same.

This is precisely what the drone delivery is about. Small items you need now.

It's not about saving time, it's about avoiding context switches. Also I'm really bad at remembering that I'm out of something even 5 seconds later, much less when I'm at the store racking my brain for what I'm running low on.

I solved this problem with a notepad in my back pocket. Write it down as soon as I realize I need it, and refer to it next time I'm at the store. Not saying it invalidates this Amazon offering, just a suggestion if this is a real problem you're struggling with.

Same here, but just a notes app on my phone. If I think of a thing, I put it in there, and I get to forget about it. I then pull it up when I go to the store.

Is this like, what society wants though? Are we all here to be waited on hand and foot, have our every need taken care of? Do we end up being able to solve more real problems this way, or do we end in a dearth of imagination? Interesting implications - we either end up with a higher percentage of people being self-actualized or an idiotistopia a la wall-e and idiocracy.

I think society as a whole does want to be taken care of in that way. I don't know that it will ever lead to mass idiocy but I definitely notice a laziness in some friends who are overly attached to their phones or cars. Emphasis on overly attached, it's totally possible to use these tools effectively but the power can be seductive.

I think I'm better off for the effort I put into things like buying detergent, walking to work and figuring out my way instead of using GMaps. It's not like I'd be worse off if I stopped doing any one of those things, but the lifestyle in aggregate where you have a button for everything does have an impact I think.

I have a hard time seeing how people can develop the schlep tolerance and planning skill to do something challenging and big if they can't remember to buy detergent.

I ordered the Amazon Echo for this - which will ship sometime in the next century. But this now makes it obsolete.

Really? They're still backlogged? Are they being hand crafted by a small village of elves?

I did eventually get mine back in February or so. The add to shopping list feature is very convenient. I don't see this obsoleting that Echo function which is much more general purpose. (Can add anything whether you get it from Amazon or somewhere else.)

I think this is a funny comment in context of the opposite comment made elsewhere here.


Let's merge these two threads together and see which wins!

Make a shopping list?

Buying groceries is a solved problem, mostly.

> How often do you need laundry detergent? Every two weeks? If this button saves you ten seconds each time, that's a total of 4.3 minutes per year saved

It takes more than 10 seconds to go to the store and get detergent. I suppose it'll save the 30 seconds it takes to order detergent on a phone, but the big gain is that it's RIGHT THERE so you can't forget to order it and then find yourself dead in the water and have to go to the store to get detergent instead of wait 2 days for amazon to deliver it.

You don't go to the store to buy detergent. You go to the store to buy a whole bundle of items, and you go regardless of whether or not you need detergent. 10 seconds is IMO a decent approximation of the marginal cost of time for adding detergent to the stuff you buy.

As for the big gain being that it's right there, I figured everybody's phones are right there too. Apparently not everybody does that. Seems like if you really find this to be a problem, you could just keep your phone in your pocket.

10 seconds is the marginal cost /if you're going to the store/. It's entirely possible to make zero regular trips to the store under normal conditions. I'd use the heck out of a "cause more cat litter to arrive in a day or so" button, in fact I have a bookmark on my laptop for just this use. Mobile apps are (imo) universally horrible for this kind of directed action.

My question/complaint is basically: rather than put all this effort behind a single-purpose button, why not work on reducing the friction for using a mobile app for the same purpose? There's no reason you couldn't have, say, a button on your phone's home screen where pushing it causes cat litter to arrive. This would be about as convenient, and way more flexible.

Edit: and the answer is pretty clear, I think. If people actually go for this, it'll be a massive advantage for Amazon. It essentially banishes competition permanently for people who use the button regularly. It'll also make people much less price sensitive. So I completely understand why Amazon would try to push this. I just don't understand why anyone else finds it interesting besides that.

Personally I think smartphones will never be good at known-goal interaction. They're general-purpose devices with a hilariously low-throughput interface that need to accommodate low-tech users. You're always going to have to navigate a bunch of screens to get to any given function because the real estate is so small.

Could apps be better? Sure. Can any app get as good as a button that's already right there when you realize you need a replacement? I don't see how.

Anytime I pull my phone out to do something specific I end up checking twitter and forget what I wanted to do.

How do you get your food and other things? I'm genuinely interested. I've lived for periods where I ate out every meal but I still ended up in a store now and then.

Safeway or another chain probably delivers if you're in a major metro. Some smaller cities have local stores with online ordering, too. And, of course, with some more trouble, you can get groceries delivered in just about any populated area if you have access to a phone.

At my apartment, I have to walk a bit of distance from my car to get inside... When I get deliveriesp, they come right to my door.

> How often do you need laundry detergent? Every two weeks? If this button saves you ten seconds each time, that's a total of 4.3 minutes per year saved. And that assumes you buy the stuff one at a time instead of getting a bunch at once.

Eh about once every 2 months.

It's taken me 2 weeks so far to remember to get it. I go to the store almost daily. :(

That seems like a pretty solvable behavioral problem. I hesitate to recommend using some todo application since todo apps have turned into kind of a joke in the last few years, but.. maybe try using a todo app?

Why use a todo app that requires me to grab my phone, unlock, start an app and enter a todo item, when I could instead just press a button that'll be right in front of me at the moment I notice I'll need more of some product soon?

I was responding to this:

> It's taken me 2 weeks so far to remember to get it. I go to the store almost daily. :(

This is a behavior that isn't going to change by having a thousand buttons all over your house. Maybe you won't ever worry about running out of detergent or dogfood again, but there's always something else. "Oh shit, I bought pasta for dinner but I forgot to buy pasta sauce!" What's the solution, get a pasta sauce button?

> What's the solution, get a pasta sauce button?

I see nothing wrong with dedicating a wall of my kitchen entirely to Amazon buttons for everything in my fridge and pantry. :)

As I mentioned in another comment, though, a better system would probably be to use some cheap, single-purpose wall-mountable tablet computer (probably e-Ink based, maybe even with a column of physical buttons instead of a touchscreen to bring costs down to a pittance) that one could load up with a list of products that need to be routinely reordered for a partiuclar room. If prices could be brought down considerably (if not free with Prime membership, as is being proposed for these Dash buttons), this could be pretty viable.

IMHO Todo apps on phones are useless for this reason.

If I cannot check a list in 2 seconds of pulling out whatever said list is stored on, I am done.

I miss my old Palm. One push of the task list button and I could see what I needed to do next.

The choice is between a button and ordering the product on your smartphone in ten seconds, or picking up the product at the grocery store the next time you're there.

The choice is between having to remember to buy the product next time you go shopping, having to remember to order the product next time you are in front of the proper device, or not having to remember a thing.

Being able to move a task to 'done' as soon as it is recognized is a savings in cognitive load far more valuable than any time savings.

Then again, I am the type of person who frequently says "might as well do it now before I forget." Younger, more single people might not see the value in this sort of thing.

Maybe you can order something in ten seconds if you really try, but it's not really about the time, it's about the experience. If I go to the Amazon web site, I'm bombarded with a LOT of irrelevant, distracting information. Having a button next to my washing machine means reordering barely even interrupts the flow of what I'm doing.

Clearly Amazon understands that human aspect, and credit to them for not getting stuck on the idea that if I have to go to the web site, they can up-sell while I'm there.

I don't get household supplies from Amazon now, but this is making me consider it just as soon as I've compared prices.

Just compared a bottle of Tide. $32 from Amazon compared to $15 from the store with a coupon. If other things are priced as badly, I certainly won't be bothering with it.

"I think it's ridiculous just because it clearly involved a lot of effort to solve a problem that doesn't really need solving. "

I suspect something similar was said by the horse owner the first time they saw a car.

To take that further, Amazon will automatically re-order products for you if you tell them to on their site, via their subscription service.

There's an obvious reason Amazon is doing this: they're trying to continue to grow their share of the consumer's brain. When someone thinks about shopping, Amazon wants to be on the very short list of that thinking. So this button is a relatively inexpensive way to keep doing that. Get into someone's house, get into someone's mind, and try to show yourself as innovative.

I think time savings is the wrong way to think about this. I also don't think people are in the habit of ordering things as soon as they need them. I suspect the item goes onto a list (physical or not), which then has to be processed.

With this system instead of adding an item to your list to process later it's processed immediately.

> I think it's ridiculous just because it clearly involved a lot of effort to solve a problem that doesn't really need solving.

Perhaps you don't see the value in it, but that doesn't make it ridiculous. Why not just move along instead of complaining about a new option for those who do happen to appreciate it?

I'd use this. Every time I return from the store, there's always something I forgot to purchase. Yes, I so use a list. The problem is when, say, cooking, I actually focus on what I'm doing. When I'm running low on something, I don't rush to my phone to log it because it's an interruption that takes away from cooking (especially when there's a notification waiting for you). Amazon is providing an extremely low-friction solution that won't take your away from what you're focusing on.

> The choice is between a button and ordering the product on your smartphone in ten seconds, or picking up the product at the grocery store the next time you're there.

I don't know how anyone actually remembers to do this. I know I don't. What inevitably ends up happening is that, despite making a bunch of trips to the store, at some point I'll discover that I'm out of dog food and make a purpose-specific trip to pick some up so my dog can eat. Later that day I'll remember, when I go to do laundry, that I'm also out of detergent. Then it will be dishwasher tablets.

Between my wife and I, we inevitably have to pick-up diapers at the grocery store between amazon diaper orders (we are irrational and don't have a diaper subscription from amazon)...Having a button in the diaper drawer would go a long way in terms of reducing friction, friction caused by sleep deprivation, that diaper rash, and n other immediate needs of your child which get in the way of picking up that smartphone and placing the order the old-fashion(?) way.

It's not the online ordering that I need to save time on, it's having to make a trip NOW because I forgot to order more <X> ahead of time. That extra trip to Target takes a whole heck of a lot longer than 10 seconds, and when I consider how many extra Target runs I make every year it adds up fast.

There is also the financial danger of, here I am at Target, may as well get my money's worth for the car gasoline and buy a whole cart full of stuff (from target not amazon). And every dollar I spend at target is a dollar I won't spend at amazon. All because I ran out of laundry detergent.

Every bottle of Tide I buy at target also means amazon just lost out on a toilet paper sale and a paper towel sale and maybe some food if its a supertarget and all that other stuff target sells. Its not amazon selling a $20 bottle of tide but preventing the target sale of a $120 shopping cart full of junk.

This only applies if you're incapable of buying the stuff ahead of time without the button. I suppose some people might qualify for that, but is it really a common thing? Don't you have your phone right there already?

I am in top 1% US population by income, graduated from elite university with almost 4.0 GPA and I am often incapable of buying stuff in advance. I am sure I am not the only one.

Last month I had to go to store at least twice in the morning before work because we ran out of milk and my two year old was close to having mental breakdown without cereals for breakfast. We use combination of Google Shopping Express, Walmart and Safeway delivery services - they are godsend and save us enormous amount of time. Unfortunately Amazon Fresh is not available where we live.

Having one second ordering for regular staples will marketdly improve ordering process, especially if buttons are reliable and convinient to use.

I'm not incapable at all, but the point is I have to stop whatever it is I am doing in order to do it. If I'm in the middle of something, I may think to myself "I need to buy more toilet paper soon" but not actually follow through the act of doing it. You've never ran out of a commoditized good before?

It's definitely a common thing for me and my fiancee - we're not forgetful people, just busy. The less disruptions and banal activity in my life the better.

I can't say I've run out of anything like this in years, no.

Why not order it on your phone at the moment you notice that you're running low? You can do that right now, without a special Amazon button.

Because that may distract from whatever I am doing. If you haven't ran out of any sort of consumable in years, then obviously you don't have that problem. It doesn't sound like this product is for you, but there are plenty of others like myself who would benefit from this.

I think the hardware component is a promotional item just to get people used to and eventually using a software component, such as a short list of essentials quickly accessible through the Amazon app. Getting people excited and changing behavior is hard through, and I think this may be purely for that.

You're asking people to abstain from something that requires less work than what you're recommending. For most people the incentives just aren't in the direction you're arguing.

I'm afraid I don't understand your comment. What am I asking people to abstain from?

I signed up for this. I want this button -- but because I want to hack it so I can have buttons for other shit.

This reeks of a solution in search of a problem.

I'm pretty sure most Americans will give up amazon for free education, health care, paid maternity and paternity leave and the many other social benefits Norway provides to its nationals.

I definitely would not give up amazon for free education, health care, etc... Those socialists implementations come at a very high cost. Yes, our current system is not well, but it's better than the government taking 60% of my earned income.

I agree with what you are saying, but my effective tax rate this year in California was ~40%. All of the above benefits for an additional 20% sounds like a bargain.

The effective tax rate in Norway is around 45% BTW.

The max personal tax rate is 47.2%, but that includes a 8.2% pension contribution.


It's hard to directly compare though, since we have really high excise taxes/VAT, especially for things like cars.

> The effective tax rate in Norway is around 45% BTW.

But I believe your employer pays an amount equal to about 20% of your gross income as pension fund payments. I don't know if USA has similar "hidden" costs which makes direct comparison of grass salary difficult.

The maximum payroll tax in Norway is 14.1%. From a quick google it seems like the rates are about the same in the US:

"making the total Social Security tax 12.4% of wages and the total Medicare tax 2.9%."


You wouldn't get all of the above benefits with our government, for the additional 20%. The US has an extremely inefficient government fiscally.

You might get properly funded roads; that is if they don't squander it between the time they lie and promise to use it for that and when it comes time to do road repair.

> The US has an extremely inefficient government fiscally.

I saw this old blog post recently, supporting your assertion: https://pedestrianobservations.wordpress.com/2011/05/16/us-r...

Basically, underground rail construction in US costs much more per kilometer than in other countries, and people in the comment section claim that the same holds true for other types of infrastructure construction, like bridges and highways.

I'm in Germany, my tax rate is ~40%, and we do get all those benefits.

To everyone commenting about their tax rates, that information is irrelevant without income levels in each area.

If Germany's tax rate starts at 40% from 40,000 EUR and California from $200,000; those are not equivalent.

Marginal or total?

My marginal tax rate in the UK is 45% but I take home 75% of what I invoice.

I've never felt I got so little for so much tax as when I lived in California.

I think this is actually ignorant of any real experience with those systems.

Yes, there's a cost, but tax rates in the US aren't ultra low compared to every other country in the world.

It's not so much how much money you spend, but what you spend it on that is the real difference.

The US tax system offers a lot of deductions. When I first moved here I was paying ~12% in total taxes (state + federal) on $60K worth of income once I took advantage of the 401k deduction, mortgage interest deduction, etc,etc.

I'm not sure where you came from, but the US system offers more or less the same deductions as other systems. On $60K, the tax rate in Canada for example would be about 15-17%, before credits.

Add your health care costs to that 12% and I think you'll find Canada has the cheaper rate, and you still get to take advantage of many (not all) of the same credits a typical American can.

There is no mortgage deduction in Canada. This is a big difference in the finances of many middle class families.

There's no mortgage deduction in US either. There's a mortgage interest deduction, which I'm sure while significant isn't a major variable in this eqaution overall.

Incorrect! Since most mortgage payments are >95% interest in the first few years, you could easily reduce your taxable income by 30-40% without a large mortgage.

You're also forgetting that the US doesn't have a national sales tax or high taxes on gasoline.

I would agree that the highest tax states in the US aren't that different than the lowest tax states in Canada (income tax only), my own person experience tells me that the US, on average, has a much lower tax burden than countries like Canada. And many jobs pay a higher salary.

Also the US brackets kick in at higher incomes. In Canada the highest bracket (29%) is over $136K. In the US, the highest bracket is 35%, but it doesn't kick-in until you earn more than $375K per year.

I don't think you actually have any idea what personal tax rates are in these countries and are just repeating Tea Party nonsense. If you live in CA and NY you are paying European level taxes and getting basically nothing in return.

Yes, this is a chocking fact I realized when I moved from Sweden to New York. In the former I payed ~30% in tax, whereas here in NY I pay the same. Because you have several levels of taxes in the U.S.: federal tax, income tax, state tax, and city tax, and in addition taxes like FICA, etc.

Don't forget to add your health insurance premiums to your tax rate before comparing. I pay less in Canada than I did in California when you add health care costs. And I and my kids can never lose insurance from a run of bad luck.

Income taxes aren't the only tax. Don't forget sales tax, gas tax, import taxes.

I easily have more disposable income in the US than I did in Canada, even after taking into account insurance costs. Even living in a high-tax US state.

I'm in Australia where we get all that stuff (and amazon sells books and not a whole lot else) and my tax rate (in a relatively high tax bracket) is ~35%, a chunk of which is paying off my (government run, non-profit) university debt. Judging by the sibling comments, it seems like that high cost is about -5% tax at best...

Fyi Amazon will ship televisions to Australia for about $130. Usually it still ends up cheaper than buying domestically.

Thankfully, these two things are not mutually exclusive and we can hope for all of it.

No thanks. I would like the freedom to choose where my money goes and not be forced by government or people lobbying government to allocate other people's hard-earned money to subsidize their preferences. Being able to withdraw money from something when it becomes corrupt, outdated, or inefficient is powerful. You don't have that power if government is taking your money by force. You are funding education even if the implementation is shitty, even if people are graduating with useless degrees.

In other words, you aren't entitled to people's money with no strings attached; you have to work for it. Using institutionalized violence to get what you want is lazy and immoral.

The fallacy in your argument is that it rests in the assumption that the US doesn't also take your money by force, when in fact they obviously do, so not having your money taken away isn't one of the choices.

Except Norway is an oil welfare state, so those social programs don't come from increasing the tax rate like we'd have to do in America (and suffer the negative effects of that).

Or live in the UK and get all of those, plus Amazon and ubiquitous online grocery shopping. On which point, I'd go for a button like this that added items to my Ocado basket.

Only Scotland has free higher education, higher Education in England and Wales is freaking expensive compared to continental Europe, and thanks to "free" student loans only goes higher every year.

At this point in my life, I definitely wouldn't, but that might obviously change in the future.

The statement "At this point in my life" doesn't make much sense unless you specify the point in your life you're at.

I'm in my 20s and I have no dependents or known health problems.

The idea isn't to "get social" only in your personal hour of need, though.

I've known people who used government assistance after losing their job, then just a few years later complain about people using welfare and unemployment income. Some of us Americans can be really weird when it comes to helping out our neighbors.

Don't worry, we Europeans can be weird too. There's always some group that doesn't really deserve it.

"free" education, health care, paid maternity and paternity leave and the many other social benefits

"I'm pretty sure most Americans will give up amazon for free education, health care, paid maternity and paternity leave and the many other social benefits Norway provides to its nationals. reply"

I would rather be paid enough and have the choice of where to put my money, instead of the government making all of those choices for me.

The disposable income in the US is not anywhere nearly high enough to justify the discrepancy in services you get: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Median_household_income

There is something to be said about not being 100K in debt after getting your degree and not having to go bankrupt if say you were diagnosed with cancer in your early to mid 20's.

Sorry but i rather not to have parents have to work their arse off just to send me to college, or hope they have enough money to treat me if i get sick just as i fall of their coverage plan.

I also would like for my self or my wife to be able to go of work for a year and raise a child without having to be afraid of losing income or job security.

> I really don't get why so many people here dislike the idea behind Dash Button

Welcome to HN, where some people think they just have to dislike everything they see on top to show how "unique" they are.

I remember when I first heard of twitter, the exact moment. My response was "Oh that's dumb. Why would I care if somebody posts what they ate for lunch? And it's only 140 characters?" Basically, I'm a visionary.

I think Amazon has the right idea. Just launch products and see how they go, what you learn, and if they stick. Very interesting company to watch operate.

in your defense, twitter really is an awful idea.

Most ideas suck, and those that do not suck are more likely targeted at people with different needs than the average HN user.

Businesses want to sell tons of crap anyway, so I'm never surprised to see harsh (but often constructive!) criticism on these boards.

HN hated Dropbox......

Not true. Most comments were positive, and even the ones that showed reservations, hardly "hated".


You are right, I guess I've only read the top few comments, and read other comments from people that said "HN didn't like Dropbox". Thanks for correcting me.

> Buying essential shit isn't fun, it's a burden that needs to be done. I can't understand why removing the hassle of purchasing stuff like toilet paper and detergent is "dystopian consumer hell". Dystopian consumer hell is what we have here in Norway, where we need to physically go to the store and buy the same stuff over and over and over again.

Sure, maybe if that's your mindset. Personally I love going and doing the grocery shopping with my kids, and they love noodling around the supermarket, helping select things from the shelves, and it's generally a good time.

The drive to crush every interaction beyond a screen flow that sticks money into Bezos' pocket, glorified by misanthropes under the banner of "efficiency" seems more like a vision of hell to me.

I've recently signed up for Amazon Prime (in Canada). I "Subscribe and Save" for a few items. Two of those items being paper towel and toilet paper. My wife does most of the shopping and carrying out 36 rolls of toilet paper to the car doesn't make sense when she's also carrying a baby. So I figure what's the harm in having it delivered to my door every month? I love Subscribe and Save.

I've just started taking advantage of Subscribe & Save. The products are cheaper than what I pay for them at the local grocery store, plus I've made sure to include at least 5 items in each order so I get the 15% discount (instead of 5%). Subscribe & Save is really great for items that are hard to carry when coming back from the store and that don't degrade quickly.

Agreed. I usually cross reference Walmarts online prices. They are usually the same (for the products I have looked at). I utilize the subscribe and save for items that I never realize I need until I'm all out (razor blades, shaving cream, diapers). However I've yet to fully explore all the offerings.

Pro-tip: Walmart and Amazon are both significantly marking up the price of paper online (be it in rolls, tissues, or sheets).

The rolls are smaller, the prices are higher. Actually do the comparison. Note that box stores rotate the sales weekly between the major brands, but they each go on sale in turn each month.

I'll look next time I'm in a store, thanks.

In major Chinese city like Beijing and Shanghai, it's even possible for "same day delivery" if you order before 11am (Jingdong -- jd.com -- delivers 3 times a day) and it's also possible to "pay when delivered" (i.e. give cash to the delivery man) since many people don't have credit card or web payment is too complicated/dangerous for them.

Most people in US don't realize what Amazon has done to prices in US. I'm too used to prices like $18 Syma 107G RC heli and $50 waterpiks. Other countries are not like that. They have little competition from online shopping and as a result people there usually pay significant premiums. I recently traveled to so-called shopping capital of the world, i.e. Dubai. My expectation was that everything would be cheaper, well, because most of the Dubai is just made for shopping and its even tax free. I was horrified to find things like Syma 107G at $50 and most other stuff at 20%-50% premiums even at "discount" shops. In my foreign travels, I have yet to encounter a place that consistently beats Amazon on prices anywhere close even with best currency conversion rates and even after high sales taxes in US. Most consumers in world have to pay about 30% margins to retailers while people in US gets away with just 3% - thanks to Amazon.

I have been using the Amazon "scan" function (in the app) a lot recently and I really doesn't think it gets any easier than that to reorder things you're running low on. I don't need a freaking button I will need to configure, hope it uses the right payment method and address, hope it I didn't just press it a few days ago... etc.

Americans are spoiled. Whether you think this innovation will be useful to you personally or not, the amount of hate spewed at it is just fascinating. Think this is not useful? Don't buy it.

> there's no site that sells everything, like Amazon, here

I see an opportunity there :)

add canada. especially when you live 3 hour drive away.

> we need to physically go to the store and buy the same stuff over and over and over again.

The horror....

The "dystopian consumer hell" is that humans spend their time making this crap instead of, you know, something that's not a complete waste of time and resources.

Or writing HN posts.

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact