Will Alexa become the voice of IoT?
Artificial Intelligence was topic number one at the 2017 International CES, thanks largely to Amazon’s Alexa, the undisputed star of the technology showcase.
Hundreds of new products are being introduced with the virtual voice assistant and no shortage of press singing their praises to consumers.
There are new audio systems, children’s toys, a robotic vacuum cleaner, and home appliances. LG’s smart refrigerator makes Alexa the default shopping list and a bunch of new TVs now include Amazon’s Fire TV software complete with an Alexa-controlled remote.
Amazon has sold “millions” of its Echo Bluetooth speakers with Alexa inside. Now that hundreds more Alexa-enabled devices are coming to market, the benefits to Amazon will grow, and quickly.
Amazon smartly made Alexa an easy to work with, flexible program, much like Apple did with the iPhone to spur app development. It is essentially creating an operating system for the home, one that will connect the myriad of smart devices in the Internet of Things to each other and to Amazon.
The access and data loop will be enormous. All queries will be known to Amazon and users will have a direct line to all of Amazon’s content, goods and services.
Already today, many households have multiple IoT devices and, by 2020, there will be upwards of 50 billion connected devices on the market, according to Gartner.
Electronics and appliances are durable goods. Once they are installed, they are not replaced frequently, especially TVs and refrigerators. Once Amazon gets a foot in the door, it will stay there for a good long time.
But watch out Amazon — Google and Microsoft have AI and IoT plans of their own.
“Amazon has gotten out in front with third-party integrations, but there is much more to AI-driven voice than that,” said Ross Rubin, principal analyst at Reticle Research.
“Over time, the ball is moving out of Amazon’s court and into Google’s.”
Still, the advantage is Amazon’s with millions of devices already in homes, millions more coming to market in the next 12 months, and a growing number of Prime members that search Amazon first, bypassing Google completely.
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Can Amazon sustain its present advantage in the digital assistant space? How do you ultimately see the battle over digital assistants shaking out?