For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved burritos.  Going to Mexican restaurants with my dad as a kid helped me appreciate the wonderful combination of meat, cheese, guacamole, and tortillas at an early age.  My taste buds continued to mature throughout my childhood and into college.  In fact, I ate at Chipotle so often during college that the manager made me an honorary employee and awarded me a “Master Burrito Ambassador” plaque, which I proudly hang at my desk.  So when Chipotle launched an iPhone app a couple weeks ago, my mouth watered with excitement.  I can order – and pay! – for my burrito with a few taps on my phone?  This really makes life easy… actually, it probably makes it

! Every time I check my phone, I see the icon taunting me, daring me not to order a delicious burrito.

Chipotle’s new app is one of many that have made life simpler.  Finding music, checking the score of the game, banking, and now ordering burritos can be done from my phone.  A large benefit of today’s smartphones is that they have the potential to improve as you hold onto them.  Every week, I get free updates to my favorite apps and there’s something satisfying knowing that teams of developers are working to make my phone better while I’m at the beach or Chipotle (or work!).  This trend is a complete reversal from technology products past.  Previously, gadgets would diminish in value until the user had to upgrade their hardware for increased functionality.  But now you can upgrade software and download apps to get more out of devices.  Manufacturers will still rely on the refresh cycle for recurring sales, but software upgrades, apps, and the development of new purchasing processes could present new revenue opportunities after the hardware is purchased.  The new business model can also make the purchasing process effortless for consumers, while creating power users and a consumer base.

Burger King and Pizza Hut recently began allowing iPhone orders and Subway is rumored to be developing a mobile ordering app to be released in the near future.  As the retail channel consolidates and end-users await the maturation of the e-commerce channel, consumers may not have to look beyond their cell phones or their favorite restaurant to find the next emerging sales channel.  If I wanted to, I could have ordered a burrito right now.  You know, hypothetically