AuctionBytes Blog
Covering auctions, collectibles and marketplace selling.

AuctionBytes Blog The AuctionBytes Blog has been giving a voice to online merchants since its launch in 2005. Named one of the world's top 30 blogs in 2008 by "Blogging Heroes." Weigh in with your thoughts on the joys and pitfalls of selling online.
Thu Nov 6 2014 22:53:46

Amazon Echo - A Stay-at-Home Butler

By: Ina Steiner

Sponsored Link

Amazon launched a new gadget on Thursday that has people talking - and the company didn't even issue a press release. "Amazon just surprised everyone with a crazy speaker that talks to you," was the headline on TheVerge.com.

Instead, Amazon used its homepage and social media to get the word out about the brand new Amazon Echo. But what is it? Like Apple iPhone's Siri, you ask it questions, and the Amazon Echo provides answers. A key difference - it's not in smartphone form, but rather, it's a cylindrical speaker suited for any room in your home.

"Amazon Echo is designed around your voice. It's always on - just ask for information, music, news, weather, and more. Echo begins working as soon as it hears you say the wake word, "Alexa." It's also an expertly-tuned speaker that can fill any room with immersive sound."

In an age when everything is about the mobile Web, the Amazon Echo is deliberately home-bound. You even keep it plugged in rather than having to charge it.

But it's not without a mobile component altogether. In its article, "Amazon Introduces Echo, A Voice-Controlled Speaker That Functions As Google Now For Your Desk," Android Police notes:

"The inclusion of a companion app is essential, because as good as voice recognition software has become, there are still times when it flat out fails. A large part of Echo's success will depend on how well it performs in this area. If it's faster to pull out my phone than to yell at my Echo for the umpteenth time, that's what I'm going to do."

Other news outlets accused Amazon of having an ulterior motive for launching such a device. "Amazon's Weird Siri-Like Speaker Is Yet Another Way to Get You to Shop," was Wired's headline. "For Amazon, the sound of you making your shopping list has the ring of money in the bank," it wrote.

And Tech Crunch's blog post, "Let's Call The Amazon Echo What It Is," editorialized:

"But just be clear on why Amazon would want to build something like this. Amazon doesn't want to be a destination anymore; they don't want to be something you have to go to; they want to be ubiquitous. They want their store "front end" to be floating in the ether all around you, just waiting for you to open your mouth.

Amazon already has a voice-enabled shopping device for the home in the form of the Amazon Dash scanning wand, which connects to home Wi-Fi networks. The Dash has a microphone, so you can say or scan items, view the list on your desktop or mobile device, and then purchase and schedule delivery. However, it only works with AmazonFresh grocery accounts for now.

What do people think of the new Amazon Echo? Here are some comments from Twitter:

@amazon why

That is an absolutely creepy device and idea.

@amazon attach it to a Roomba and make it an R2 unit.

How does a stationary device fit into knowledge flow?

@amazon I'm not usually an early adopter. Why do I want this immediately?!?

@amazon What does it actually do?


@amazon Amazon seriously WTF is wrong with you guys lately? First the Fire phone, now this?

Who is approving these horrible ideas?

@amazon not sure the point of this product, my phone already does all of this

@amazon THIS IS SO COOL


With the Echo, you can find answers to your questions, have it wake you up in the morning, remind you of appointments, take notes, create shopping lists and play music. Like Siri, only it stays put and you don't have to press and hold a button to talk to it - a sort of Jeeves for the rest of us.

(And by the way, since it works on a home wifi connection, the cost is the price of the device - no monthly phone bill.)

Apple set out to make an easy-to-use smart phone, and succeeded with the iPhone. This looks like Amazon's attempt to make an easy-to-use smart speaker. Is there more to it than that?

Here's a link to the Echo page on Amazon.




Comments (11) | Permalink

Readers Comments

Amazon Echo - A Stay-at-Home Butler   Amazon Echo - A Stay-at-Home Butler

This user has validated their user name. by: Ed Gadfly

Fri Nov 7 02:39:00 2014

This device needs to team up with the wildly popular Amazon phone.

What is Amazon's mission? To rip off authors and to sell stuff from their smoky warehouses.

Now the spies are obvious at least. Oh, just talk back to the pillar and it will answer you. Uh-huh... been there with The Magic 8-Ball and the X-ray Specs that see right through flesh, not just stopping at the clothes layer.

Will Amazon's talking pillar give you the answers to the kid's homework or the meaning of life? Who else does Amazon share your information with?

Let Echo know you are a seller, so it can nag you about your eTasks. "Don't forget to send your sold dress pattern to Nebraska. The post office in town will close in 53 minutes. The temperature is 39 degrees with a 20% chance of precipitation. The post office in town will close in 52 minutes. In The News, President Obama..."

Echo can compete with the voices in your head. It's a lame idea from a book seller. Get designers to produce your tablets, phones and desktop listening devices, Amazon. Your stuff would sell at Sears, not Apple.

Add an ionizer to it to purify the air. I can epoxy a round glass ashtray to the top of it. Something that can't answer questions and pesters you to buy stuff... where have I run across this before???

Amazon Echo - A Stay-at-Home Butler   Amazon Echo - A Stay-at-Home Butler

by: LightWing This user has validated their user name.

Fri Nov 7 08:52:02 2014

Yea....but does it introduce itself as "Non Profitus Prime"? :)

Amazon Echo - A Stay-at-Home Butler   Amazon Echo - A Stay-at-Home Butler

by: ignatz This user has validated their user name.

Fri Nov 7 09:11:19 2014

Anyone remember Star Trek? Anywhere on the Enterprise, a crew member could ask "Computer" a question and get an answer. Having to talk into a square brick of plastic in your own home is now like Scotty picking up the mouse and talking into it.

Amazon Echo - A Stay-at-Home Butler   Amazon Echo - A Stay-at-Home Butler

This user has validated their user name. by: iheartjacksparrow

Fri Nov 7 10:57:19 2014

@Ed Gadfly - You win the post-of-the-day award.  

Amazon Echo - A Stay-at-Home Butler   Amazon Echo - A Stay-at-Home Butler

This user has validated their user name. by: Ric

Fri Nov 7 11:24:32 2014

If this device had an Apple logo on it, people might be lining up to buy it, but from Amazon, well not so much.

However, I believe this release is not as much about the product, but rather the ownership of the underlying patents.

If Apple, Microsoft etc... were to release a product with similar features, you can bet that Amazon will either get a piece of every sale or else their lawyers will be salivating to file patent infringements, earning Amazon millions.  

Either way, owning the patents potentially earns Amazon tons of money without having to design, manufacture, sell or ship anything.

Amazon Echo - A Stay-at-Home Butler   Amazon Echo - A Stay-at-Home Butler

This user has validated their user name. by: WOODJUNGLE! ON EBAY

Sat Nov 8 01:16:38 2014

I'm fairly certain Bezos is a robot.

Amazon Echo - A Stay-at-Home Butler   Amazon Echo - A Stay-at-Home Butler

This user has validated their user name. by: Basset

Sat Nov 8 10:49:59 2014

Butler?  Doubt it will fix us a drink or get us out of a pickle like Good Ole Jeeves did for Bertie Wooster!


Isn't Jeff Bezos all into artificial learning and artificial intelligence?


The darn thing would probably learn our habits then evolve to sit around and nag or scold us. ''Don't eat that pizza - your butt is too big!''  Or it will increase our junk mail and spam based on what we talk about.

I would have to mess with Echo (like Siri) to see if it knows the answers to eternal questions like: ''How much wood could a woodchuck chuck, if a woodchuck could chuck wood?''  or  ''Should vegetarians eat animal crackers?''


If it artificially learns revenge,  can Echo plot with Siri behind our backs to take over the Basset household?

Amazon Echo - A Stay-at-Home Butler   Amazon Echo - A Stay-at-Home Butler

This user has validated their user name. by: Tula

Sun Nov 9 13:52:01 2014

Kind of interesting, but I'd be more impressed if there were a way to hook it into my network and have it able to relay voice commands to various components, like lights, thermostat, etc.... It could be an interesting part of the Internet of Things that is so talked about lately. I've been wanting to do home automation for years and even played with some of the early X10 technology that sent signals via your electrical wiring. Being able to say something like "set thermostat to 70" and have it do so would be really cool. But then again, I'm a total geek, so others may not be as enthralled :-)

Amazon Echo - A Stay-at-Home Butler   Amazon Echo - A Stay-at-Home Butler

This user has validated their user name. by: Basset

Sun Nov 9 21:10:17 2014

This is a parody of Amazon Echo by Barry Manifold on Utube - It has more hits than the Amazon presentation. I came across it on the news!  

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GijLoiVkmYI

Remem
ber,
if you get one of these, don't yell at it - it might get testy.  

Amazon Echo - A Stay-at-Home Butler   Amazon Echo - A Stay-at-Home Butler

by: Moonwishes This user has validated their user name.
Web Site

Mon Nov 10 00:11:58 2014

My husband could use this. He is forever losing track of what day of the week it is, what appointments he has for the day. As a self-employed worker it could be like a secretary reminding him of things, or I guess I could just keep doing it and save the money.

Amazon Echo - A Stay-at-Home Butler   Amazon Echo - A Stay-at-Home Butler

by: Mr. Me This user has validated their user name.

Mon Nov 10 10:49:45 2014

I'm sure that every orher word will be trying to sell something from amazon.
And probably keeps rhe microphone on at all times , monitering for subversive comments!
Did they mention that it is being produced in North Korea?



Login is required to post comments.
To sign in to leave a comment using your AB Verify User Name, fill in the form below. If you have not yet signed up for AB Verify, or if you'd like more information, go to the Registration Page
.

Login for AB Verify
Be sure and use your email address and password to log in.

 
Email:
Password:
 
 Forgot Your Password?
 Even though you are signed in with the AuctionBytes Blog, you will have to sign in to the EcommerceBytes blog. But you can sign in with your existing AB Verify info.