“Alexa, turn on the lights.”
“Alexa, play my favorite song.”
“Alexa, how do I make risotto?”
If you are one of the people who often use Amazon’s virtual assistant, you are not alone. Earlier in the week, the online giant announced that it recently sold its 500 millionth Alexa-enabled device.
Yahoo Finance wrote that it also announced four new Echo devices. “The four new products are the Echo Pop, a new semi-sphere device; Echo Buds, Alexa-connected wireless headphones; and two new Echo Show 5s, including one specifically built for children. The vision for these new devices, and Alexa at-large, is that Amazon can offer Alexa as an approachable, “personal AI,” said Rohit Prasad, Alexa’s head scientist, who emphasized safety right-off-the-bat.
“Of course, Alexa should do anything and everything for you, within the bounds of safety norms,” he told Yahoo Finance. “Trust is absolutely critical and especially in these times, it’s super important that we are all being responsible about how it’s being used … I think we have to constantly be very clear about what Alexa can and cannot do, or will or will not do. I think those points are becoming even more important, and we have the durable tenet of trust being paramount.”
The range of new Echo products all meet different needs and, possibly even, different types of consumers, as Amazon works to meet all of the possible use cases for smart home tech. For example, the Echo Pop features a directional speaker, created to facilitate fuller sound. Meanwhile, the Echo Buds – which, yes, appear to have quite a bit in common aesthetically with Apple’s (AAPL) AirPods – are meant to be a more portable version of Alexa, allowing users to listen to music or make calls while moving around.
Prasad also said that, in 2022, Alexa use increased 35%. It’s a key announcement – Amazon has been in the midst of slashing jobs across its corporate workforce in recent months, and a number of those layoffs, 2,000 at one point, very specifically affected the company’s Alexa division – so much so, that Amazon Devices & Services Senior Vice President Dave Limp had to publicly reassert the tech giant’s commitment to the unit.
“The entire smart home industry is a multi-billion-dollar industry that was created with Alexa,” said Prasad. “If you think about entertainment, Amazon Music has been growing at an incredible rate because of Alexa, so that’s a huge data point. People also don’t realize that a lot of shopping happens through Alexa. Shopping attractions are growing 40% year-over-year, and more than 50% of our customers have used Alexa for a shopping attraction. Lastly, even with things that are relatively new in terms of overall capability, Alexa is a trusted information assistant… That makes me very optimistic about Alexa’s future, and that’s how we think about it at Amazon.”
Alexa has been a great boon for Amazon. Just four years after its launch, the company said it had over 10,000 employees working on Alexa and related products.
In addition to being an at-home virtual assistant, the web giant announced that soon you will be able to take Alexa with you in your car. Driving reported the news: “Set to be marketed as a way to bring Alexa services to vehicles without that capability built into their infotainment system, the Echo Auto is a physical device one pairs to their phone and plugs into a USB port (or 12V outlet) in their car. Sized less than half the dimension of the brand’s own remote control for its Fire Stick television accessory, the Echo Auto emanates a bluish glow atop its crown when receiving voice commands, a mannerism which will be familiar to anyone who already owns an Alexa-enabled device in their home.
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