The 2018 Consumer Electronics Show strengthens our conviction that Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant is more than a phenomenally successful product. Alexa is a crucial element of an Amazon super platform, built on Amazon Web Services, which is fueling Amazon’s push into new markets ranging from automotive to the smart home.
As we blogged in May 2017, Alexa creates the common thread underpinning Amazon’s dominance of the smart speaker market (where Amazon commands an estimated 75-percent market share) and its push into more nascent markets such as connected automobiles. Months later, Mark Sullivan of Fast Company arrived at a similar conclusion when he commented on how many products at CES use Alexa. In an article entitled “Here’s Why Alexa Won CES Before the Show Even Started,” he wrote, “The ambient AI wars are no longer about letting you use a speaker to control other devices–they’re about putting cloud-based brains in gadgets of all sorts.”
Now let us count a few of the ways Alexa has asserted itself at CES:
Vuzix, a display provider, rolled out Vuzix Blade, a pair of augmented reality smart glasses that uses Alexa to perform a range of functions such as accessing the Web, or using a camera. A consumer version will be available in 2018. The smart glasses have generated positive buzz for being more elegant looking than its predecessor, Google Glass, and with better functionality. The voice interface is crucial to the product’s hands-free features.
Toyota announced that in 2018, the car maker will add Alexa to a limited number of Lexus and Toyota vehicles in 2018. Toyota will integrate Alexa into more models in 2019. According to John Scumniotales, head of product for Amazon Alexa Automotive, said, “Our vision for Alexa is that she should be everywhere a customer might need her – at home, in the office, on phones – and in cars. This integration means that customers can interact with Alexa, virtually anywhere they drive.” Toyota is not the only OEM embedding Alexa into the driving experience. At the 2017 CES, BMW, Ford, and Volkswagen also announced the integration of Alexa into their vehicles.
A number of in-home products have announced Alexa integrations. Those products include Panasonic ultra HD Blu-ray players, smart appliances such as Whirlpool washers and dryers, and Alexa-capable home security devices, among other products.
Just for perspective: Amazon launched its flagship Alexa-powered smart speaker, the Echo, just over three years ago. Since then, Echo has dominated the smart speaker market. But Echo has also been a proving ground for Alexa – where Amazon tests how well Alexa carries out voice commands. From those learnings, Amazon is making Alexa a more useful utility for all aspects of our lives, ranging from the appliances we use to the devices we wear – with Amazon Web Services providing the crucial backbone.
CES 2018 is like a coronation for Amazon Alexa and ambient customer experiences. Amazon has built a seemingly insurmountable lead in the market for voice-based products with the possible exception of smart speakers engineered for music. Voice creates the ecosystem for Amazon to build lovable products. The challenge for brands is to figure out how to thrive in that world. For more insight, contact Moonshot. Our recently published Creating a Voice-Based Product with a Design Sprint offers executives an approach for creating products based on voice interfaces with minimal cost and risk. We understand how to create commercial value from voice-based products built on any platform, including Alexa.