December 13, 2018

Amazon Wants to Be with You at All Moments

“Amazon announced a baffling array of connected home products on Thursday. In total, the company introduced 14 new products at a surprise hardware event in Seattle, along with a handful of software and feature updates. Attempting to follow along with the event on live blogs and on Twitter proved impossible. Unlike an Apple event that focuses on a few hardware announcements, with much of the time spent detailing specs, features, and demos of those products, Amazon rattled through more than a dozen new products (and 70 total updates) with the speed and ferocity of an auctioneer (or so it seemed—I stopped following the event live and waited to make sense of it all once Amazon sent out more detailed press information). While Amazon delivered on some expected product updates, it also threw some curveballs, including an Alexa-controlled microwave and a wall clock.

Now, it’s clear that Amazon introduced products across four primary categories: Echo smart speakers, Echo accessories and companion devices, connected home control, and smart home monitoring. Some of the products make perfect sense. Amazon unveiled the Echo Dot in 2014 and last updated it in 2016. It was due for a refresh. Amazon also officially brought Alexa into the automotive space, something competitors Apple and Google already have a strong foothold in.

As for some of its other product announcements, it’s clear that Amazon wants to expand the Echo ecosystem and Alexa, its digital assistant, into as many homes as possible—and once in your home, into as many rooms as possible (and your car and your yard, too). Amazon is taking a spray-and-pray approach here: Some of the products are niche and high-end, designed for audiophiles. Others are cheap mass-market ploys. They are all over the place. While each of the products, on its own, has a logical role in the Amazon-product ecosystem, lumped together in one launch event, the result is overwhelming. With so many overlapping products announced at one time, Amazon may have even cannibalized some of its own potential sales. Then again, Amazon’s the one with the data on our purchasing habits, so maybe it knows exactly what it’s doing.”

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