What is Amazon Alexa? The Answer Keeps Changing
I recently discovered this short video on the Alexa Developers YouTube channel that poses a simple question, “What is Amazon Alexa?” Look back over Alexa’s rapid evolution, and you see that a risky experiment inside Amazon’s labs has become a voice-controlled A.I. market leader. Alexa is driving the growth of ever-expanding ecosystems of Skills and connected devices like our OV intelligent headphones. Put simply, you discover the answer isn’t as simple as the question.
(Side note – if you are developing Amazon Skills apps or devices with Amazon Voice Service integration, I encourage you to subscribe to the Alexa Developers YouTube Channel. It offers a great selection of expert-led tutorials for developers and builders.)
(No) Growing Pains
In 1968, the Phillip Morris Company launched one of the Madison Avenue’s most famous advertising campaigns that featured the slogan, “You’ve come a long way, baby.” That applies nicely to Amazon Alexa, considering “she” first went on sale in late 2014 only to Amazon Prime members, and wasn’t generally available until June 2015.
The Consumer Intelligence Research Partners (CIRP) estimates that there are now 8.2 million Amazon Echo device owners. That’s up 60 percent from the 5.1 million Echo users that CIRP cited just last November. Clearly, it was a very Merry Christmas season for Amazon.
Those are remarkable numbers, especially considering the internal hand-wringing within Amazon over whether the first Amazon Echo speaker would sell or flop.
According to a fascinating Bloomberg article published in April 2016, “The Real Story of How Amazon Built the Echo”, Amazon’s developers were battling with none other than Jeff Bezos over several features and even the name. Bezos wanted to name their new product the “Flash”.
“Many people who worked at Amazon Lab126… hated the name. Bezos, on the other hand, was strongly in favor. And there was another worry. A core feature of the device is a “wake word” that cues it to begin taking voice commands when spoken. One of the two words being considered was “Alexa.” Bezos thought the best word would be “Amazon.” This presented a challenge, because people say that word a lot. A common opinion within Lab126 was that the project was hurtling toward a potential disaster: The speakers would wake upon hearing Amazon ads on television and commence buying random stuff from the Internet.”
As we know now, everyone agreed on “Alexa” and the rest, as they say, is history.
Queen of the Hill
In just a couple of years, Alexa has secured a dominant position in the voice-controlled A.I. and smart home markets. Alexa made headlines earlier this year at the annual consumer tech bacchanalia that is the CES show in Vegas. According to CNBC, “Amazon’s Alexa stole the show at CES in a bid to become the Internet of Things operating system.” Today, there are more than 10,000 Amazon Skills available, including hundreds from some of the world’s biggest and most recognizable brands.
Amazon offers its Alexa Skills Kit to help brands, marketers, makers and developers to create experiences for Alexa-enabled devices, and bring Alexa to their own devices with Alexa Voice Service. Amazon also launched its Alexa Fund, which provides up to $100 million in venture capital funding to fuel voice technology innovation.
Back to that Amazon Developers YouTube video that caught my attention. It ends with the statement “Where she goes next and what she’ll say is up to you.” The answer to that question of where Alexa may go next is a simple one: Anywhere your journey takes you.
Our Alexa-enabled OV headphones allow Alexa to accompany and assist you wherever you have a cellular or Wi-Fi connection. OV provides you with the same voice control access to your music, audiobooks and all the Amazon Skills you have at home, whether you’re walking around the block or driving across the entire country.
The OV intelligent headphones are evidence of what that future holds for voice-controlled A.I. assistants, and you can own it today. To learn more and purchase a pair, please follow this link: http://onvocal.com/ov