Perhaps it’s only Apple envy, but it’s been evident for a long time that Amazon wished it had its own market-leading consumer device.
It’s possible that it does.
That wouldn’t necessarily be the Kindle tablet, the improved Kindle Fire, the Kindle Kids Edition, or the Fire TV. All of these were attempts to produce a winning consumer device.
Last August, the Dash re-order button tied to certain Amazon products, such as Tide detergent for a particular manufacturer’s washing machine, made its debut. Another attempt was the ill-starred Amazon phone with its Amazon “buy” button.
All that time, the company had a new gadget in the background slowly taking over consumers’ hearts without anyone realizing it.
On April 5, the online business news service Business Insider chronicled the rise of Amazon Echo, the voice-activated household ordering device. It works with Alexa, the company’s own digital assistant.
Amazon has quietly developed the Echo and Alexa combination since 2011. Echo doesn’t talk to you as a know-it-all, the way Apple’s Siri does. Rather, the Alexa voice system inside an Echo device listens and promptly responds, takes actions, and asks for final consumer verification.
Some consumers are saying they could get used to that.
Echo and Alexa are of course serving different purposes than the iPhone and Siri.
Echo is a static device, a small, black cylindrical tower sitting on a desk or table. The user only has to address it as “Alexa” or “Amazon” and it is ready to respond. Echo is attached via Bluetooth to the home wireless network and can translate voice directions into electronic actions, such as placing an order on Amazon.com, playing music, or reading the news and weather.