retail news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kevin Coupe

Amazon apparently is not letting the folks who are dubious about its approach to sales-and-profits get it down. The company has just released - on an invitation-only basis - a new speaker called "Amazon Echo" that is capable of taking voice directions, just like Siri on the iPhone.

According to the Chicago Tribune story, "As well as taking commands such as 'play music by Bruno Mars' or 'add gelato to my shopping list,' Amazon said the device accesses the internet to answer questions such as 'when is Thanksgiving?' and 'what is the weather forecast?'

"Amazon said the speaker, which runs on Amazon Web Services, continually learns a user's speech patterns and preferences … Amazon Echo is priced at $199, or $99 for members for the online retail giant's Amazon Prime loyalty scheme."

First of all, it is interesting how this new gadget is being linked to Prime, where Amazon seems to be working overtime at providing value-added products and services.

And second … don't let them underplay that thing about "add gelato to my shopping list." In fact, that's probably the major impetus for Echo - allowing people to seamlessly order products from Amazon, whether it be books, groceries, or virtually any other item it sells. Ideally, from Amazon's perspective, it'll be the height of impulse purchasing.

And I fully suspect that six months after this thing is up and running and going wide, there will be people out there who will be wondering how they ever lived without it.

It's an Eye-Opener.
KC's View: