A black-and-white hand-held wand-shaped remote-control features a
microphone, speaker as well as a bar-code reader and links directly
to the user's AmazonFresh account.
However, the device is available only for users of the AmazonFresh
which currently operates exclusively in Southern California, San
Francisco and Seattle. The device is free during the trial period,
according to the product's website.
However, signing up for Amazon Dash is by invitation only while the
AmazonFresh service is currently available only Southern California,
San Francisco and Seattle.
The online retailer has been steadily expanding towards electronics
manufacturing businesses, starting with the Kindle e-reader which
was first launched in 2007, and the Fire TV streaming set-top box
announced earlier this week, even as it seeks new ways to energize a
gradually slowing core retail business.
Amazon has been steadily expanding its "Fresh" online grocery
business, targeting one of the largest retail sectors yet to be
upended by online commerce. The company has plans to launch
AmazonFresh, which has operated in Seattle for years, in roughly 20
urban areas in 2014, including some outside the United States.
A successful foray into groceries could also help underwrite the
development of a broad-based delivery service employing Amazon
trucks to deliver directly to homes, which could have implications
for UPS, FedEx and other package delivery companies that currently
ship Amazon goods.
[to top of second column]
Still, groceries have proven to be one of the most difficult sectors
for online retailers to manage successfully. One of the most
richly funded startups of the dot-com era, Webvan, was a
spectacular failure as the cost of developing the warehouse and
delivery infrastructure proved overwhelming.
Amazon was unavailable for comment regarding the public availability
of the device.
(Reporting by Narottam Medhora in Bangalore and Edwin Chan in San
[© 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2014 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.