Over a century ago, King Gillette pioneered the razors and blades business model. The DMCA led to a new twist on this: companies have been trying to force you to buy their blades in particular by slapping microchips on them–even when those things don’t really have any need of a microchip–because that makes it illegal to reverse engineer.
This gave us the Keurig coffee machine, which has been successful, but has been deservedly criticized–even by its inventor–for its wastefulness. Keurig attempted to add DRM to their pods, although that backfired.
Catering to the herd mentality of the investor class (“It’ll be like Amazon, but for X!” “It’ll be like Facebook, but for X!” “It’ll be like Uber, but for X!”), this has led to…
The Juicero, a massively over-engineered $400 (marked down from $700) gadget that squeezed $8 DRM-laden bags of fruit pulp into juice. It flopped.
Now this thing, a spice dispenser that uses DRM-laden spice packets that cost about $5 a pop (spices obviously vary in prices, and it’s not clear how much comes in one of their packets, but I just bought 4 tbsp of cinnamon for $0.35).
These Keurig imitators represent an intersection of at least two bad trends: the Internet of Shit, where stuff that has no need of ensmartening is gratuitously connected to the Internet–a logical consequence of sticking unnecessary DRM-enabling chips on things, with those chips getting cheaper and more powerful–and the walled gardens of yore, like AOL–which companies like Facebook and Google have been attempting to reconstruct on top of the Internet ever since. So now we’ve got walled gardens of shit, filling up with their own waste products. Happily, the market seems to be rejecting these.