Amazon won messaging.

I’ve written about the evolution of messaging a few times. Big deal. Frankly, many others have written far more eloquently about messaging interfaces or and how to design them.

But the reason I’m stumbling along here and others are waxing nearly poetic are the same. Messaging is important. Bots are coming, and they’re changing everything.

Coding has always been an attempt to get humans to speak computer. Successive generations of OSs and languages have made this process easier over time. But messaging and conversational ux mark the first time computers have tried to speak human. This attempt at natural dialog is why companies are rushing into the space.

Some will fail because they try to do too much too fast. After all, the first thing we all try to do with a bot is to make it look stupid. Completely useless, but cathartic.

Others will take a measured approach. They’ll try to add value by solving simple problems that are more clearly defined by the following:

  1. What the user is asking for (simple product or search query)
  2. How much is needed.
  3. Where the user is (geo-location)
  4. What the bot or company already knows about the user (stored profiles)

The earliest adopter of this was Amazon. They already won a long time ago with the simplest messaging interface ever designed. The rest of us are just catching up. And the did it without anyone really noticing. Folks, I present the humble Dash button.

Think about it. Amazon stripped out the annoying part of buying. After a little configuration by the user (you could even call this programming, really), the user was out of the old Amazon UX and into the new world of messaging. No more login. No more searching. No checkout. Just a message through Dash. A message that had some very powerful parameters.

  1. It knew what product you wanted. (Glad trash bags, Gatorade drinks, Gillette razors).
  2. It knew how much you needed. (1 click = 1 box of trash bags)
  3. It knew where you were. (Amazon sent it to your house)
  4. It knew all about you. (Helpfully linked to your Prime account cc)

And the coolest thing here is that Dash is completely aligned with Amazon’s business. Ordering the button is a revenue event for the business — it costs $4.99. Using the button forces an AMZN app download and Amazon Prime membership. Once placed, buttons create semi-permanent branded placements in customer houses. You think Amazon doesn’t tell Procter and Gamble all about that? Using the button assures savings — the first use immediately credits you back the $4.99 you spent to buy the button, and quick inventory turn. Lastly, it’s pretty cool. Customers like it and goofballs like me write about it.

Game over. Amazon wins.


There are tons of new startups taking a run at solving really worthy problems in travel (like Assi.st) . I see some of them. If you’ve got a new idea that you want to check out, send it to me!

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