Amazon Go: Pushing Ubiquitous Computing & Brand Experiences Forward

Amazon announced “Go” yesterday, which is their vision for the future of retail: a smart store without lines. What’s noteworthy, however, is not the innovation used to create the store. No, what’s really interesting is how well positioned Amazon is to expand their market.

Amazon Go is an implementation of what the tech community refers to as Ubiquitous Computing (or ubicomp). Ubicomp was introduced in the 80s and has since evolved from concept to reality. Take, for example, how familiar you are with the phrases “Internet of Things” or “Wearables” — these are ubicomp products.

The true value of Ubicomp, however, is when we move beyond products and into environments. Implementing an environment is the process of building sensors into a room or space that seamlessly combines the digital and physical experiences.

As a consequence, fully envisioned ubicomp has always suffered a fundamental limitation: a suitable go to market strategy. It’s easier to sell a smart watch than a smart home. And that’s where Amazon enters the picture.

Go is the latest ubicomp concept to emerge from Seattle. In 2014 the Dash barcode scanner was announced. Dash buttons were announced in 2015. The Dash Replenishment Service soon followed. With each concept the technology increasingly receded from the user experience. So much so that the replenishment service literally automates the purchase process.

Which is Amazon Go’s essential value proposition. Go is designed to provide the same seamless shopping experience as Amazon’s website. In doing so, Go aligns, from a user experience perspective, with the Amazon brand.

Apple is another example of a brand that has successfully aligned their brand experience with their retail experience. Apple, though, sells their products at competing merchants. I wonder if Amazon will do something similar with Go? Will Amazon Go one day power Wholefoods?

User Experience Director — Mastercard Labs, Kenya. Android Developer. Photographer. Admirer of nuance. Asker of odd questions. Optimist.

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