The world is moving faster and faster, and yet we seem to have less and less time for all the things we want to do. There is a drumbeat of competition among companies trying to take the friction out of every aspect of consumers' lives.
Consider Amazon's Dash, for instance. It's basically a tiny button with connected to your Wi-Fi that allows you to re-order groceries and other frequently purchased items. Always want to have a supply of Maxwell House Coffee on hand? Just put your Maxwell House Dash button near the coffee supply. When you see you're running low you press the Dash button and (presto!) more coffee grounds come to your door the next day, from Amazon.
Or consider the Hiku device, which allows you to speak your desires into it, so that you can add them to your shopping list or schedule deliveries automatically. Rather than from Amazon, Hiku is brought to you by Walmart Grocery and Peapod.
Both these devices have limitations, however. The Dash is only available for particular product categories, and you have to buy a different Dash button for every category (at $4.99 each, for Amazon Prime members only). The more versatile Hiku ($59.99), on the other hand, strikes me as the kind of device that really ought to be just a free smartphone app, and likely will be in the near future.
Despite their limitations, however, these kinds of products represent smart attempts to make consumers' lives even more frictionless. But, like the Palm Pilot organizer, or the Hi-8 videotape recorder, or for that matter the 140-character tweet, they will soon be rendered obsolete by even easier, more frictionless solutions.
Instant gratification is a powerful economic force.