Install an Amazon Button in Your Home!

Amazon Dash Button
It’s not a joke, The New Yorker assures us. “Many people assumed it was,” they wrote yesterday, “mostly because the announcement came the day before April Fool’s, but also because the idea seemed to poke fun at Amazon’s omnipresence, making it visibly manifest with little plastic one-click shopping buttons adhered to surfaces all over your home.” But yes, this really is happening. You can now install a little button in your home which will automatically order you products from Amazon.

For a shortcut to Amazon’s button, point your browser to
tinyurl.com/AmazonButton

It’s free for Amazon Prime members, if you request an invitation from Amazon at that URL. The “Dash” buttons are even customized with the logos of products you might want to order (like Tide detergent or Bounty paper towels), according to a promotional video Amazon’s included on the page. “A simple way to re-order the important things you always run low on,” its friendly narrator explains, “so you’ll never run out.” And apparently you can set up the button to order any product that you want (using the Amazon app on your smartphone).

Amazon always sends a confirmation to your phone, so you’ll have a chance to review your order after it’s been placed. And don’t worry — by default, the button is set up to place only one order (even if you press it more than once!) Amazon is reaching out to manufacturers now about how they can include Amazon’s magical button as part of their own marketing plans. And what’s really amazing is that after pushing the button, your order will sometimes arrive at your house in less than one hour!

Amazon’s announcing a new one-hour delivery window for members of their Prime shipping service in select target markets. The “Prime Now” service is available in Atlanta, Baltimore, Brooklyn, Dallas, Manhattan and Miami — in select zip codes — for thousands of products that you’d order from Amazon. “We are excited to continue delivering to customers in record-breaking time…” brags Amazon’s senior VP of worldwide operations. “It means you can skip a trip to the store and get the items you need delivered right to your door in under an hour…”

“Since launching, we’ve seen high demand on everything from essentials like water and paper towels to more surprising deliveries like getting a customer a hard-to-find, top-selling toy in 23 minutes!”

The New Yorker had some fun with the announcement, wondering how people would configure their Amazon buttons — and which items they’d re-order again and again? “So far, other than coffee, Amazon appears to be steering clear of offering addictive products with the service. There is no Cheetos button. No Oreos button… And the buttons are set up to place only one order at a time, no matter how many times you press them, which means that Fido or your five-year-old can’t order ten thousand rolls of paper towels when you’re not paying attention.”

My biggest problem was that I thought the whole thing was a joke! Especially since for April Fool’s Day, the link-sharing site Reddit announced a button of their own. When you press this button, it resets a timer that’s counting down from 60 seconds. So far over half a million people have clicked on it, always resetting the timer before it reahes zero — so no one knows what will happen when its timer finally drops to zero.

But if this were Amazon’s button, they all could’ve ordered a half million boxes of Tide!

Remember, for a shortcut to Amazon’s button, point your browser to
tinyurl.com/AmazonButton

Four Big Stories About Amazon

Gary Busey promotes Amazon Fire TV

Amazon’s been tinkering for years, and this month they finally revealed some very big new products. It’s blurring the lines between your Kindle Fire tablet, your TV, and even your kitchen. We’re living in a new world — as evidenced by the fact that state attorney generals have now actually procured refunds for customers affected by alleged price-fixing by the publishers of ebooks. Here’s four of the biggest news stories I’ve seen that convinced me thing some very big changes have started happening right now — another collection of my favorite recent Kindle (and Amazon) news stories. And for each one, I’m awarding “cheers” if the story is a genuinely exciting development — and “jeers” if it feels like another funny misstep!


Cheers for Amazon Fire TV

I was stunned when I heard the news. For $99, Amazon would sell you a device that streams Netflix, Hulu, and other video services directly to your TV. “Tiny box, huge specs, tons of content, incredible price,” bragged the CEO of Amazon, and they’ve even optimized it to pre-download the shows it thinks you’ll want to watch next for faster streaming. Plus, you can broadcast video from your tablet or phone directly onto your big-screen TV (as well as your own home movies and photographs), besides renting new movies from Amazon’s own video store, and there’s also free streaming of music from popular music apps like Pandora (and of course, Amazon’s Cloud Player). There’s even a feature that gives you the option of displaying a song’s lyrics while you’re listening to it — and with an optional controller, you can even play popular games on your TV — includine Minecraft and Despicable Me: Minion Rush!


Jeers to Amazon’s Gary Busey Campaign

Amazon’s CEO also pointed out that if you’re looking for a specific show, their Amazon Fire device comes with “Voice search that actually works means no more typing on an alphabet grid!” Fair enough — but they’ve unveiled a truly bizarre ad campaign to promote their new device…starring Gary Busey! (“If you’re like me, you like talking to things. Like, ‘Hello Lamp…’ “) The ad shows the 69-year-old actor — who was nominated for an Oscar in 1978 — as a crazy and volatile, yelling at his TV to “find Gary Busey,” only to reveal that that’s now actually possible with the new Amazon Fire device. It’s a good way to convey Amazon’s point — that “it’s frustrating when things don’t listen. Especially high tech things…” But I have to admit that I was a little uncomfortable with their use of Gary Busey , who really did suffer a serious head injury during a 1988 motorcycle accident.


Cheers to Amazon Dash

Amazon is still quietly invading our homes — and with more than just Kindles. They’re testing a new handheld device called the Amazon Dash, a small device that lets you scan bar codes in your own home. If you’re in one of the lucky cities that has Amazon’s same-day grocery service, then this device has some truly incredible potential. You swipe it over the bar code of any product that you want to re-order, and it’ll magically appear in your queue of items for delivery! Most of the items will actually arrive the next day, according to Amazon’s promotional video — but it’s not limited to just grocery items. In one case, they show a woman ordering a new set of guitar strings, and promising that it’s “shopping made simple,” Amazon has complemented its functionality with a slick tablet app!


Jeers to My 73-Cent Refund

I’d been excited when I saw the announcement. “In December 2013, a federal court approved legal settlements by publishers Hachette, HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster, Macmillan, and Penguin in antitrust lawsuits filed by State Attorneys General and Class Plaintiffs about the price of eBooks.” The end result was a refund to customers like me, and we received a credit right in our Amazon accounts to compensate for any financial hardship we’d suffered from illegal price-fixing by ebook publishers. (Click here to see your refund.) That’s all very well and good, but what wasn’t good was the amount of my credit: just 73 cents!

Maybe I can use the credit to go buy myself 73% of 99-cent ebook!