Product that do their own reorders
Products that do their own reorders may create ecosystems that may give a strong advantage to incumbents.01-Apr-2015

Just saw an ad for which seems to be a set of smart appliances form Quirky that automatically reorder their supplies from Amazon. To quote their blurb

They’re not just connected—they’re truly thoughtful. They anticipate your needs and make intelligent decisions to keep your family happy and healthy.

The idea itself is not knew – I’ve used such capabilities as an example in my talks. But the reality is worrisome in tying all these products and brands together so tightly. Is it going to become increasingly difficult for new entrants? In theory we can have open APIs which facilitate mixing and matching but, in practice, the incentives seem to be aligned for limiting choice. The companies themselves like having control and giving choice creates more possibilities for failures.

Amazon is also starting to roll out “order” buttons (Amazon Dash),

We see this enthusiasm in iProducts that are tied together seamlessly at long as you don’t want to “color outside the lines”. Apple does great products and that’s what worries me because to many people their choices seem so obvious why do we need a messy alternative?

Perhaps I’m impatient. After all, the SS7/PSTN was a well-defined seamless product but eventually VoIP started to replace it. It took less than fifty years. Perhaps I’m just impatient. We’ll see if a counter-trend of RESTful JSON APIs will provide an alternative that is more dynamic.

More reason to be concerned about vertical monopolies.