Amazon's Echo Dot sold like hot cakes
A ton of people in the US purchased Amazon Echo Dot devices for Christmas, presumably because the killer $20 price point makes it a great no-brainer gift.
Amazon rarely details exactly what that means, but the Dot did sell in the millions, and out-sold any other device on Amazon, including the company's other products like Kindle. That's pretty wild for a product line that didn't exist just two years ago, and most people didn't even know they wanted.
Looking at the top charts on the iOS App Store in the US reveals just how popular that was, as well, across a huge base of users: Amazon's Alexa app was (and still is) number one.
It's clear, particularly in the US, that Amazon is dominating the fight for voice in the home so far.
If you look at global markets where Amazon is available, the scale is stark: Alexa has been consistently in the top five apps across markets where it's available since early December, and shot to the very top days before Christmas.
Google Home has held impressive ground, hovering in the top ten since Christmas, but it's obvious Amazon's reach is helping it sell devices at a high clip.
Amazon is already a huge company, but it's curious to observe this fight for the 'next' platform, voice, where it appears to be winning for the first time because its competitors aren't able to get in front of customers, and the devices are 'good enough' to lock people in the first time they try it.
At $30, Echo Dot is a trojan horse, too, and can be used to order further Alexa-enabled devices in a few seconds — somehow the most popular order through Alexa happens to be... more Echo dots, presumably to get multi-room music and calling wired up once the user is hooked.
Amazon's press release contains other interesting tidbits, like people used the Echo to turn on Christmas lights more than a million times with their voice and told tens of millions of jokes in a single day on Christmas.
Apple missing out on the holiday season with HomePod might not hurt immediately, but it'll be interesting to see how the company can perform with its $399 device up against a slew of dirt-cheap speakers that can plug into anything and are already inside people's homes.
By owning voice, Amazon has an interesting new inroad into people's lives where it failed previously to gain traction in phones, tablets and other devices. Users are deeply embedded into Amazon's ecosystem with an Echo, and are far more likely to purchase on the site — and stick with ordering Echo-enabled accessories.
Voice interaction with computers is becoming embedded in people's everyday lives. It's not normal to talk to your fridge now, but I suspect within a year or two we'll want everything to be voice-enabled because it's such a natural interaction.
Sometimes, buttons are more convenient, and that won't go away entirely, but voice commands to quickly order more soap or turn off all your devices as you leave the home are much more powerful than tapping around a flat screen to get something done.
As Amazon tries extremely hard to cram Alexa in everything from fridges to barbeques, it's got a great chance of being the next operating system — it's just one you can't see or touch.
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