I must admit, I was pretty excited reading the news of the Dash AWS-powered IoT button. After all, while I've written a lot about how the Dash button effectively demonstrates the power of a singular, simplistic physical interface for IoT, so far Dash buttons have been (purposefully) limited as single-brand purchase machines.
But what if Amazon enabled the consumer to use the button to purchase anything or, even better, set into motion any action in their connected home or connected lives? Now that would be something.
But alas, this is not that, at least not yet. In a post on the The Verge, Paul Miller does a good job of lamenting what could have been with this latest Dash button.
"The real ideal would be a button we can register with an app and have it trigger any action on the internet. It would be the perfect way to make IFTTT physical."
But imagine for a moment if Amazon truly did make an all-purpose, do-anything button for the Dash, one that didn't require an AWS account? And imagine if such a button enabled consumers to connect to any number of third party smart devices, online services to initiate, engage or transact?
That would be huge and, as Miller says, probably do nothing for Amazon's bottom line. And therein probably lies the problem, at least if you're Amazon.
The Dash IoT button for developers starts down this path, but it's not really a consumer product. It's really a developer product and, because it's a developer product, requires an account with AWS and all the technical acumen and hassle that comes with that.
But I'm still hopeful. By starting down this path, Amazon may be laying the groundwork for developers to experiment with the IoT button and create compelling integrations, ones which, I have no doubt, Amazon will begin to showcase as what's possible with a do-anything button. And who knows, maybe down the road they'll release a more consumer friendly one that consumers can simply buy, register and simply assign an action?
If I know anything about Amazon, I suspect they might be thinking exactly along these same lines.
But what about making money, you're ask? OK, so while a general-purpose Dash button may not be as directly tied to Amazon purchases as the first generation, the Seattle online giant might realize the power of owning the one-button IoT physical interface might actually be an indirect way to becoming an even bigger consumer IoT powerhouse they've already started to become with Echo and Alexa. With a do-anything button, not only will the own the voice interface layer for our connected lives, but could start to pave the way towards owning the physical interface.
The benefits of having access to all the data associated with tens of millions of distributed buttons in our homes, our workplaces and everywhere would be amazingly powerful. And, yes, a little scary.
But when's that ever stopped Amazon?