Amazon's goal: Alexa everywhere
At a surprise Amazon event yesterday, the company unveiled a slew of new devices with Alexa inside, building out a formidable voice ecosystem for your home (and sometimes beyond).
There were two distinct categories unveiled: Alexa speakers and Alexa-enabled products, so we'll start with the former first and blast through all of the different devices shown off, because there's just too many to go into depth:
- Echo Link Amp and Echo Link to add Alexa smarts to existing home theater or speaker setups for $299. A huge shot across the bow against Sonos, which announced its own Amp for $599 last week, sans voice capabilities.
- Echo Subwoofer to add a little more bass to existing Echo setups for $130. Still requires a separate Alexa speaker!
- Echo Dot the existing smaller, cheaper puck-sized speaker got an update with rounded edges and better sound for $50.
- Echo Input adds Alexa support to any speaker with a 3.5mm jack and has no built-in speaker, making it a steal at $35. Chromecast Audio from Google sort of does this, but without the microphones.
- Echo Auto throws Alexa into any car and pairs with your phone via Bluetooth to get an internet connection. The idea is that Alexa can go anywhere with you and give directions on the road with Waze -- I suspect this one will be a hit at just $25.
- Echo Show, the company's smart display, got an update with smaller bezels and better sound for the same price, $230. Notable on the eve of Google's rumored smart display!
- Echo Plus, the premium version of Amazon's Alexa speaker at $150, got an update with better sound, temperature sensors and the ability to control some of its functionality without an internet connection.
- Echo Wall Clock is somehow the most interesting device to me, a smart wall clock without Alexa built-in but with an LED ring for counting down timers, visual alerts for notifications and auto-adjusting for daylight savings! It integrates with your Alexa to be a sort-of simple visual dashboard, which is such a smart play.
It didn't stop there, however, with an array of "Alexa-enabled" products that the company is building for itself from the DVR it's built, called Fire TV Recast, to the AmazonBasics Microwave, which integrates with Alexa to let you ask it to do things like "go for thirty seconds longer."
What's clear from all of this is that Amazon is not backing down: this is a seriously impressive lineup of devices designed to back the voice-enabled competition a run for their money. Google can't compete with this many surfaces (and I suspect doesn't want to), and Amazon is betting it can win the race by being everywhere.
This is interesting to consider in the context of reports earlier this year that Amazon was losing serious market share to Google, which launched an enormous marketing campaign for Assistant/Home around the world.
Both companies see voice as the next platform, even as hype is dying down, hoping that as it becomes more normal and less novel to interact with voice assistants on a day-to-day basis that you'll be willing to let more of them into your home.
Amazon's bet, clearly, is by being everywhere, in everything. What it didn't mention at all, however, is your privacy, or how long that connected microwave will be supported, leaving it up to you to decide whether or not that matters in your home.
Facebook reportedly plans to launch its home video device soon
After delaying the speaker, which reportedly used facial recognition to suggest calling your friends, Facebook is apparently ready to put this thing into the world. Stay tuned on this front, but it's pretty tone deaf, considering the whole Cambridge Analytica scandal was just months ago.
Adobe acquired popular enterprise marketing software Marketo
In a $4.5 billion deal, Adobe is getting another piece of the enterprise pie with marketing automation company Marketo. Think Mailchimp, but for giant companies. With Magento inhouse now as well, it's clear the angle here is for bigger pieces of the enterprise pie.
Good read: How Amazon Prime has forced Walmart and other retailers to match free shipping (and how hard that is)