Five months after it first revealed its one-click buy-me buttons that you stick around the house, Amazon is bringing the Dash buttons out of beta and formally rolling the program out to all Amazon Prime subscribers.
Eleven new brands have signed up to be a part of the Dash button program, bringing the total count to 29. That means there are 500 different products that are able to be ordered and reordered, through a quick tap on a button, Amazon says. New brands include Hefty, Mrs. Meyer's, Dixie, Depend, and Ice Breakers.
In case you haven't been following Amazon's latest attempt to create a world of interface-free shopping: the Dash buttons are small plastic dongles that you pair (acoustically!) with the Amazon app on your iPhone or Android device, and set up to order specific things like Gatorade, Clorox Bleach Wipes, and Huggies Diapers. They were first announced in the spring, along with the Dash Replenishment Service, which allows appliance makers to build Amazon services directly into, say, a dishwasher.
I gave the Dash buttons a test run last month, and, after initially thinking it might be some sort of gimmick, found the buttons to be convenient and...strangely fun. (I still haven't reordered anything through them.)
But I did find it sort of ridiculous that the buttons cost $4.99 a piece, meaning that consumers have to buy things to buy more things on Amazon.com. Maybe I wasn't alone in that; Amazon is now offering a rebate for the buttons, applying $4.99 to your account per button and putting it toward your first purchase made with a lazy click.
You also can't just buy whatever you want — Amazon only offers Dash buttons from select companies it's partnered with. The actual economics of the program are shrouded in mystery as is the Amazon way. Consumer goods companies were reportedly paying up to $100,000 to be a part of the beta program; Amazon wouldn't comment on its relationships with brands.
Peter Larsen, Amazon's vice president of devices, did say that that the company gives consideration to consumer products that have a variable rate of usage when it's determining what will work with Dash buttons. In other words: it's the kind of stuff that you probably reorder from Amazon on an inconsistent basis, not items you'd add to your 'Subscribe & Save' list.
Larsen also insisted that Dash buttons aren't a part of the company's plans to curtail some of its long-in-the-works consumer devices.
Maybe what's more interesting is Amazon's vision beyond the buttons. When I asked Larsen what the next phase is in ultra-convenient shopping, he offered a scenario that indicated Amazon has grander plans to be a part of the connected home.
"You can see a scenario where, at 4 o'clock this afternoon, a lightbulb arrives at my door and I say, 'Why is this here?' And 30 minutes later our lightbulb goes out," Larsen said. "And that's because Amazon knows that your lightbulb was about to run out."