Last week, Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN) curiously devoted an entire press release to a water pitcher. But not just any water pitcher. Rather, Amazon detailed a new partnership with Brita to bring consumers the $45 smart Brita Infinity Pitcher. Just connect it to your Wi-Fi, and the Brita Infinity Pitcher will automatically track how much water passes through its filter. Then, using Amazon Dash Replenishment, it'll automatically order a new filter when a replacement is needed.
Of course, on the surface this might seem silly. But so, too, did Amazon's launch last year of Amazon Dash Buttons, a group of tiny Wi-Fi enabled devices that quite literally allow people to buy hundreds of household items -- from laundry detergent to plastic bags and diapers -- through Dash Replenishment at the touch of a button.
And to be fair, the concept of a Wi-Fi-enabled device that automatically orders goods isn't entirely new. In fact, last quarter Amazon unveiled a number of connected devices using Dash Replenishment, including printers from Samsung and Brother that can automatically reorder ink as it runs low, a number of smart pet-food dispensers, and even a high-efficiency washer/dryer pair from General Electric that can anticipate and reorder laundry supplies when they're running low. What's more, Prime subscribers can already use simple voice commands to order items through Amazon Echo, which is essentially an intelligent, hands-free connected speaker.
The bigger picture
In the Brita Infinity Pitcher, however, Amazon is introducing arguably the most compelling, seamless implementation yet of Internet connectivity in an otherwise unassuming, inexpensive device. And you can bet Amazon won't stop here.
Though Amazon didn't elaborate much on its earliest group of Dash-enabled devices in last quarter's earnings press release, CFO Brian Olsavsky did speak more broadly about Echo and connected devices during Amazon's most recent quarterly conference call:
"We're really excited about the ecosystem and some of the skills that are being added to Echo, as well as some of the other devices that are taking advantage of Alexa, which is kind of the brains behind Echo. So we like our devices business in general. [...] We like that they pump more energy into Prime and really the whole ecosystem."
Amazon has also worked hard to make it as simple as possible for partners to implement Dash Replenishment in their own devices, noting on the service's Web page that "device makers can start using [Dash Replenishment] with as few as 10 lines of code using simple HTML containers and REST API calls, all without having to manage addresses, payment info, or billing." Make no mistake: That's something that makes the former software engineer in me want to shout for joy.
It's not hard to see what Amazon gets out of it. Though Amazon doesn't release specific Prime membership numbers, recent research indicated the company boasted around 54 million members in the U.S. around the start of this year. And each of those members already spends around $1,100 per year on Amazon's site, compared with around $600 for non-members.
If Amazon has anything to do with it, then, products like the Brita Infinity Pitcher should only become more common going forward. And in the end, if Amazon can use an army of Dash-enabled devices to further automate that spending, let it suffice to say it should be good for Amazon's top and bottom lines.