Instant film and a record player were top sellers on Amazon for the holidays

Apparently, the biggest sellers on Amazon’s US site this Christmas were a turntable and film for an instant camera.

Why? The Verge’s Jacob Kastrenakes has a theory:

Is it weird that cheap analog products beat out modern alternatives? Kind of. But as someone who ordered a physical book and a pack of film just yesterday, none of this seems too hard to explain away. Jensen’s turntable is a low-cost way to get someone started with vinyl, which is growing in popularity right now very much because of its analog and anachronistic qualities; plus, with built-in speakers, there’s no need for a full stereo setup alongside it, either. And while I’m surprised to hear that Fuji’s Instax Mini line has such a following, it’s worth remembering that these products have a lot less competition than any individual digital camera or home speaker — since there are fewer products to pick between, the ones that do exist are going to capture more sales.

If you want to get into something, it’s always helpful if the cost of entry is low, so the risk is low. Tom Kelley, in The Art Of Innovation: Lessons in Creativity from IDEO, talks about another aspect which is ease of entry. He noticed that fishing was overly complicated for kids to get in to but, more importantly, their parents hadn’t fished as kids and so didn’t know how to teach their own children. So he designed a one-piece fishing rod that meant kids could quickly try it out and, if they liked it, get more involved in it.

Vinyl seems easy enough – buy a record, put it on the record player. But like those non-fishing parents, if you’ve not got a record player in the house, you need to buy one and then you’re into a different territory. As the Not The Nine O’Clock News sketch above makes painfully clear. Same with photography. No one wants to look like an idiot, so make it easy. The fact we all have cameras on us now hasn’t dampened the interest in photography, but increased it. So if camera shops want to capitalise on that, make it less baffling to take the next step.

Amazon has invented tiny plastic buttons that allow for instant product ordering

It’s 2AM and you’re changing your baby when you realize you’ve just used up your last diaper. Or you go to reach under your sink to grab another roll of toilet paper only to discover you’ve forgotten to order more. And maybe you eat nothing but mac and cheese, and did not correctly calculate your stockpile, so that you’re stuck actually having to cook real food one night. This is not the sad, black-and-white world of late-night infomercials, but real life, Amazon says. The company is rolling out new hardware today called the Dash button that promises to solve these scenarios. It’s a small physical button that you can stick wherever, and press when you want to order more of something. Need more diapers? Hit the diaper button. Need more toilet paper? Just hit the toilet paper button. Find yourself running low on mac and cheese, razor blades, Gatorade, or laundry detergent? There is now a button for each one of those things. The future where you can just be lazy and spend money with a push of a button from Amazon is here, and it’s very real.

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Amazon Makes Even Temporary Warehouse Workers Sign 18-Month Non-Competes

The work is repetitive and physically demanding and can pay several dollars above minimum wage, yet Amazon is requiring these workers — even seasonal ones — to sign strict and far-reaching noncompete agreements. The Amazon contract, obtained by The Verge, requires employees to promise that they will not work at any company where they “directly or indirectly” support any good or service that competes with those they helped support at Amazon, for a year and a half after their brief stints at Amazon end. Of course, the company’s warehouses are the beating heart of Amazon’s online shopping empire, the extraordinary breadth of which has earned it the title of “the Everything Store,” so Amazon appears to be requiring temp workers to foreswear a sizable portion of the global economy in exchange for a several-months-long hourly warehouse gig. The company has even required its permanent warehouse workers who get laid off to reaffirm their non-compete contracts as a condition of receiving severance pay.

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