The Amazon Alexa AI and the associated hardware, the Echo and the Dot, are pretty amazing devices. But they’re still in their infancy. We can expect the concepts and technology to continuously grow over the coming years.
So what’s next for Amazon’s Echo (and even Alphabet’s Google Home)? Would you believe … pulling off my shoe … making phone calls? The Street has the story in a little more visible detail, derived from the paywall WSJ story it links to. “Amazon Echo and Google Home May Soon Be Able to Make Phone Calls.” There are some details to work out, such as privacy and emergency services. But it looks to be coming in 2017.
Speaking of Amazon, in a recent interview, Jeff Bezos had some interesting things to say about the Alexa/Echo technology. In an interview with Billboard, Stephen Witt asked a leading question: “If you succeed, you’ll have placed an Amazon cash register in every house in the country.” The response by Bezos was fascinating and informative. It’s not just about sales. It’s learning how people speak and what their needs are. Bezos:
It’s not about that. For sure, if you have a 2-year-old and you see that you’re running low on diapers, we want to make that easy for you. But voice interface is only going to take you so far on shopping. It’s good for reordering consumables, where you don’t have to make a lot of choices, but most online shopping is going to be facilitated by having a display. Alexa is primarily about identifying tasks in the household that would be improved by voice. Music is one. Another is home automation. So, you can say, “Alexa, turn off all the lights in the house.” “Alexa, turn the temperature up two degrees.” That’s really an amazing thing to be able to do.
Our TMO observations are that the Amazon Dot has been a much more effective home automation hub than Apple’s offerings. But then, Apple’s home automation vision puts a very high priority on security while, for Amazon, the focus is convenience.
For more about the relative capabilities of SIri and Alexa, see this terrific article by our Jeff Butts. “Who’s More Intelligent, Apple’s Siri or Amazon’s Alexa?”
Today, Amazon has taken the early lead. As Jeff Butt’s writes: “The race certainly isn’t over, but Alexa is in the lead for the time being.” What say you, Siri?
Next page: The news debris for the week of February 13th. Welcome home, traveler!