Alexa is everywhere

Amazon is following the Netflix strategy, embedding Alexa everywhere it can possibly make sense. There are TVs (of course – think Amazon Fire TV Stick), refrigerators, and all sorts of Amazon Echo-like docks, all using Alexa’s voice recognition technology without requiring the purchase of an Echo.

Add to that the devices that integrate with Alexa’s APIs, making themselves controllable by the user’s Amazon Echo.

You can read about some of these devices, shown off at CES 2017, in this Loop post.

But Amazon has even larger ambitions for Alexa ubiquity. They’ve inked a deal with Ford to add Alexa voice recognition to their SYNC system. From this New York Times article:

This week at the International CES, the giant electronics conference in Las Vegas, Ford Motor announced that owners of its cars would soon be able to use Amazon’s Alexa voice-activated assistant in their vehicles. Drivers will be able to ask for a weather report, stream music from Amazon Music or add appointments to their calendars. They will also be able to use Alexa from home to start or unlock their cars remotely.

More importantly:

But the automaker also envisions drivers using Alexa to help with other tasks — like shopping on Amazon. Stuck in traffic? You can take care of Valentine’s Day by saying, “Alexa, order flowers on Amazon.”

This last is a direct threat to Apple’s efforts with Siri and CarPlay. In the past, Siri and Alexa have played in largely separate spaces. That changed when Amazon added Alexa to the Amazon Fire TV Stick, offering a much cheaper path to Netflix than Apple TV.

Perhaps signaling their intentions, Amazon has not yet built an app for the Apple TV to allow Apple TV users to access Amazon Video. And now, Amazon is more directly challenging Apple in the car space. And the ability to ask Alexa to order flowers (and many, many other things) from the car shows Amazon’s intentions much more clearly. Amazon is going after their own form of ecosystem lock-in.

  • One would have to be insane to allow such a lock-in in their lives to one company, that drives your every purchase to their store. Let them get too much power, and we end up losing alternatives.

    • Rederick

      Many of us are already very much “locked in” to Apple’s ecosystem, and starting to find the problems, such as lots of videos on iTunes but no Apple Video app for any 4K Smart TV. No miracast in iOS that means no way to share screen or audio with a TV in a friends house whom doesn’t have apple products. Lack of industry standards means lock in everywhere, be it Google, Apple or Amazon. (Microsoft may also be in this group).

      • Apple I trust to keep my information safe. Amazon I do not.

        • This is an important part for me. I trust Amazon a lot less than Apple when it comes to using my information (yes, I know Apple uses some, but not like Amazon and Facebook and Google do) as well as keeping it safe from others. I think they’ve had a better track record than most, but I definitely have to investigate that further.

          All companies are pretty much doing the lock-in stuff now, so I don’t generally see that as an argument for or against anymore. Open source stuff is still for some very geeky types or brave device manufacturers, and, honestly, I think the jury is still out on whether open source or proprietary is more secure overall. (Specific instances, perhaps, but in the overall grand scheme I’m not entirely sure one wins.)

        • Rederick

          Amazon and Apple sell product and services, unlike Google which gives away their services in exchange for your data. I think Amazon has a better ‘integrate’ strategy than Apple for their content. Apple is missing a trick.

    • Meaux

      Isn’t that Apple’s entire strategy?

      • They don’t seek to destroy competition through illegal monopolies. They make better stuff.

        • Meaux

          Is Amazon trying to destroy competition through illegal monopolies? So far the only one of the two to lose a DOJ anti-trust suit is Apple.

          • SDR97

            Which was one of the dumber antitrust rulings I can recall. If the point is to preserve competition, going after the only viable competition to Amazon made no sense.

          • Meaux

            Preserving competition hasn’t been the point of anti-trust law for a few decades. The Antitrust Paradox, written in 1978 significantly impacted antitrust theory and jurisprudence and made the focus on consumer welfare. By organizing a cartel that uniformly raised prices on all consumers with no benefit to the consumer, the cartel orchestrated by Apple falls afoul of modern antitrust precedent.

            tl;dr: The point of anti-trust laws is to protect the consumers, not the competitors

  • GFYantiapplezealots

    If I can’t lift my wrist and say “Hey Siri, lock my door/is my garage door open/startup the man cave” from anywhere in the world, then I’m not interested. I feel sorry for the people falling for this limited (and expensive) Amazon hack.

    • Obsidian71

      Most in the Tech Press simply rewrite press release. It’s amazing how clueless most are

  • Obsidian71

    This race is between Google and Apple. History shows is that platform vendors rarely lose these battles. iOS and Android rule the mobile roost. What OS does Amazon build and maintain? You cannot build your ecosystem on top of IP you don’t own and beat the vendor providing that IP

  • StruckPaper

    “Amazon is following the Netflix strategy, embedding Alexa everywhere it can possibly make sense. “

    How is embedding anything everywhere a part of Netflix’s strategy?

    • Obsidian71

      The point was silly considering that Android is running TV, speakers and other STB devices which means Google is more poised for success for embedded devices than Amazon. Buy a high end Sony, Philips, Haier or Vizio Google Cast is there. Buy Sony, JBL speakers it may be there. By a Nvidia’s there. I don’t want to talk to my fridge I just want it to keep my food fresh. I don’t want to interact with my Washer or Dryer.

  • SDR97

    I have an Echo and like it, though I don’t really find it any better than Siri in voice recognition or parsing. But Amazon has a ton of work to do if they think that people are going to use this technology in any serious numbers to order things from Who orders a product sight unseen without weighing different options? “Alexa, order some diapers.” Yeah, I don’t think so.

  • underscore

    Are you sure that the reason Amazon Prime TV isn’t on Apple TV is that Amazon doesn’t want to put it there? And I think Amazon has a l-o-n-g way to go before they approach the level lock-in that Apple has perfected. Every day I get annoyed that my iTunes library can’t play on my Echo…but then Amazon offered $3.99 a month unlimited streaming for Echo so my problem went away.

  • Antonio Fonseca

    In my opinion Amazon’s strategy for Alexa looks more like MS’s to Windows in the 90’s than Netflix’s. So you ask me why MS than Netflix? It seems obvious that at this time Amazon is not so concerned about the quality of the experience.

  • Bob Trikakis

    Alexa will slowly fade away this year like the Amazon Fire and Kindle did in previous years. CES is a place where technology dies, not move forward. Name one exciting technology or product that has come out CES in the last 10 years?