The Echo revolution is coming; the Echo revolution is coming!
Consider yourself warned.
Christmas, Independence Day, Thanksgiving, and now we have Prime Day—an Amazon online holiday created by them for their Prime subscription service; talked about in all social gatherings across all ages and income, and for a good reason. According to Business Insider, more than 50 million Americans visited the site during their 30-hour sale, and it was the Amazon Echo that was the top-selling item. And more new members joined the yearly service on that one day than ever before. (GANTNews).
And just when you thought the day itself was news, Amazon announced new items to their lineup. There was no big launch; they just seemed to appear on their site.
Echo Show – $229.99
First up, the Echo Show. This device takes the voice control of the Echo and adds it to a unit with a camera and a touchscreen (like a mini bulky TV). “Echo Show brings you everything you love about Alexa, and now she can show you things. Watch video flash briefings and YouTube, see music lyrics, security cameras, photos, weather forecasts, to-do and shopping lists, browse and listen to Audible audiobooks, and more. All hands-free—just ask.” (Sounds a bit creepy to me.) For those of you paranoid that big brother was listening in, now you can also concern yourself that you will also be on camera. Did anyone else read the book 1984 and find this strangely familiar?
Amazon has also created a chat service around this device. It will let you call, text, or video chat with anyone else that owns an Echo or uses the app. Moreover, there is a feature called “drop in” that allows you to pop into someone else’s device unannounced. Sounds a bit like Snap Chat but without asking! (Or like a peeping Tom.)
As intruding as this is, there could be uses for it. Baby boomers who are not on friendly terms with the iPhone, for one. Or having a recipe at your fingertips would be a nice feature (I currently have my laptop out when creating a culinary wonder and always fear for its life).
Echo Look – $199
If the Show did not feel imposing enough, enter the Echo Look. This device brings the selfie to a whole new level. The cylinder camera is meant to hang out in your bedroom (nothing personal there, right?)! Its purpose? To help you look your best. “Using just your voice, easily take full-length photos and short videos with a hands-free camera that includes built-in LED lighting, depth-sensing camera, and computer vision-based background blur.”
You can then not only “See yourself from every angle with the companion app,” but can then “get a second opinion on which outfit looks best with Style Check, a new service that combines machine learning algorithms with advice from fashion specialists.”
Beyond this, the Look can read the news and audiobooks, set alarms, get traffic and weather updates, control smart home devices, play music, and more.
Amazon Tap – $129
Is that power plug too much for you in the Echo itself? Enter the Tap, a wireless portable Bluetooth speaker. She can provide you with all the Echo services when connected to Wi-Fi or a mobile hotspot or just play all your music for up to 8 hours.
These new devices, of course, all work with the original Echo ($179) and the Dot ($49.99), the smaller puck-like device allowing you to add Alexa to all your nooks and crannies.
With the add-ons of all the Echo-shpere (get it?!?), I cannot help but wonder what ever happened to Amazon Echo/Sonos partnership that has been whispered about for the last year. Rumor has it a microphone has lived in Sonos speakers for years, although it is not active.
Now add to the mix the partnership with Sonos and Crestron—would Crestron want the two giants, Echo and Sonos, to be such close friends? We know that three friends never truly get along. Will Crestron try to halt the relationship? Can they?
Anyone else feel the world of AV quaking underneath? Yes, we know that the audio quality may not meet our standards, but doesn’t that complaint sound familiar circa the early 2000s, when the AV world cried the universe would ever adopt the iPod due to its less than perfect audio?
Lots of questions remain unanswered, as there is much to play out in the industry. Do you think Amazon is about to plant its flag in the home as the winner of the “new” smart home?