My-iButton.com shows a number of typical scenarios where it might be useful: a waitress advertising the speciality of the day; a father showing off a photo of his children; cheerleaders promoting their sports team; well, you get the "picture".
Jim Bray obviously has mixed feelings about the device. Writing for the Post Chronicle on 17-Dec-2007, he wonders aloud whether it's just "Advertising OD". Quoting My-iButton's CEO Richard Quintana, Bray admits that the technology's impetus came from throw-away political campaign buttons, a kind of ephemeral collectible. Quintana wants to make these kinds of buttons recyclable and reusable. And, to be fair, on that level the device makes a lot of sense. If you attend trade shows as a promoter, if you are involved in a political campaign, if you have to wear a lanyard at conferences regularly, why not invest in something that you can adapt and reuse?
But Bray rightly wonders aloud whether the device will simply become another way to inflict poor taste and questionable causes on other people. Maybe. But T-shirts with slogans, buttons, bracelets, bumper stickers, and ads superimposed on hockey boards, football fields, and other sporting events isn't going away any time soon.
One example of a company promoting the advertising possibilities is XSCAPE. You can download and view their PowerPoint presentation here.
Another interesting alternative is a custom device mentioned in an article by Bob and Joy Schwabach, namely using a video iPod. Of course, the video iPod is a lot more expensive than an $80 My-iButton.
Personally, I can see this being useful for anyone doing trade shows or manning booths at conferences. WWITPRO, for instance, is often represented at user-group booths at Microsoft TechNet events. If we wore a device like this, and if they had not yet become a common device, it would be sure to attract attention and interest. But that's part of the problem. If you get in on the action quickly, you can capitalize on the fascination factor. But give it a few years when everyone is sporting personal advertising and the novelty will quickly fade.