Amazon had a surprise Echo event this week where it rattled off product after product after product. There was a new, shorter and smaller second-generation Echo. Then there was the Echo Plus, which added a smart home hub. And don't forget the Echo Spot, an alarm clock cross between the Show and Dot.
But Amazon didn't stop there either. The company announced a new integration with BMW, Echo Buttons, a 4K Fire TV, Echo Connect, and Alexa Routines. That makes for a whopping eight products in a single day.
Read this: The best Amazon Alexa devices
All of this is Amazon continuing to push Alexa as far as it can. It wants Alexa to be its cross between Windows and iPhone, and it wants to make it as easy as possible for you to get into its ecosystem.
Isn't it already easy to get Alexa? It's on my phone and the Dot is super affordable.
Sure it is, but the thing about hardware is that context changes use case. Most people seem to use an Echo Dot for weather, timers and general information. For other things, you might turn to other services or products.
What Amazon is doing is expanding the number of use cases Alexa and Echo can handle. The Show introduces video, for example. The Spot, pitched as an alarm clock, is for the morning and nights. Combined with Routines, Amazon wants you to use the Spot as the giant switch to turning your home off and on when you go to sleep and wake up.
So Alexa for every context?
Exactly. Look at the BMW integration. Alexa will be in your car, and if you happen to be comfortable with Alexa in your home, that's a natural extension. Your music will follow you, and if you remember that you need more toilet paper while sitting in traffic then Alexa is around to buy that for you.
But what are the buttons for?
The Echo Buttons don't have direct Alex integration, but they are a doubling down. Game show-like games are pretty popular on Alexa, as you can see with the high-rated and very downloaded Jeopardy! skill. The Buttons reinforce that Alexa is something you can use to play games.
It's the same thing with Echo Connect, which lets you use your landline number with your Amazon Echo, which does free calling. The more you play games and call people, the more you're using Alexa.
And the more I lean on Amazon?
You got it, friendo. Amazon's playing the long game. Amazon sells things, and if it can find way to make it easier to sell things to you, it will. You can think of this as the Kindle strategy. Amazon wants to sell books, and it sells books in a whole bunch of ways: audiobooks, e-books and physical books. Selling a bunch of Kindle hardware makes it easier to sell Kindle books.
Likewise, selling a bunch of Echo devices to extend Alexa into every possible scenario means you're never too far away from Alexa and, by extension, Amazon's store.
It's Amazon's world, we're just living in it
You don't know how true that is. There's an even longer game being played here. We know that Amazon tried, and epically failed, at making a smartphone. It missed out on that revolution, but it does not want to miss out on the next one.
That next one, at least in the home and in the car, is all about voice. Amazon has figured out that voice and AI are the gateway to the smart home, which is why the Echo Plus can act as a home hub that lets you control all your devices. Devices, by the way, that you can purchase on Amazon.
Purchase things on Amazon with affordable devices from Amazon?
Couldn't have said it better myself. Amazon can afford to lower prices on its devices as much as it can, foregoing profit entirely if it wanted, because it knows that, eventually, you'll get so entrenched in Amazon's ecosystem that you can't help but use its services. Likewise, it wants you to find so much comfort in Alexa that you don't turn to Siri, Google Assistant or Cortana.
Amazon Prime movies and music work well with Alexa on Fire TV and Echo, respectively, which nudges you toward subscribing to Prime, which makes it more likely that you buy things on Amazon.
If Amazon is the Everything Store, Alexa is the key to everything.