Through an aggressive marketing campaign originally launched with Alec Baldwin asking a little black box to do a variety of different things, Alexa has become the next big thing in a world full of gadgets.
Anybody who grew up in the 1980’s has some of its commercials stuck in their head. One I can’t seem to shake features Dunkin’ Donuts. A second was a Folgers Christmas commercial. Yet perhaps the most iconic and apparently unforgettable one had this jingle: “Clap on, clap off…the Clapper!” It was a jingle Joey Gladstone and Jesse Katsopolis could have made better but its simplistic approach was so far ahead of its time. What if I told you that Alexa can turn your lights off without clapping? Is that something you’d be interested in?
Not that long ago a high school buddy posted a video of his two toddlers asking Alexa to play their favorite songs. It was not Alexa’s finest moment as it does not speak toddler quite yet. Just the joy on two little ones’ faces talking to an Amazon Echo had me wondering how Alexa was becoming so powerful.
All of this Alexa talk got me away from some technicalities. “Alexa” is the name of the computer one talks to on Amazon devices such as its Echo. By saying: “Alexa,” the Echo beeps and then you can ask it a variety of things or give commands. Some of the commands could be to play music or make calls. Instead of reaching for your cell phone or trying to find said cell phone to make a call, you can tell Alexa to make the same call for you.
At first glance some would say Alexa is just Amazon trying to compete with Apple’s “Siri.” But what may have appeared to be a daunting task may soon become a tighter race. Am I the only person who was drooling when I saw somebody with the first iPhone? All I know is when I finally got one it was the iPhone 5 and I felt like cell phones would be dominated by Apple in the foreseeable future. Enter television giant Samsung and its Galaxy and Apple had a battle that continues today. But Siri was one of those original things that Apple had while its competitors struggled to find something similar. Except Amazon.
At the closing bell on Jan. 8 Amazon was valued at 1246.87. Apple, meanwhile, closed at 174.35. I am not comparing Amazon to Apple. I am simply showing, though, how much more stock value Amazon has than Apple. This tells me the future of Alexa is looking a lot better than Siri. Amazon can afford to invest more money into Alexa while Apple has its own concerns to keep them busy.
Marketing was once Apple’s calling card. Remember those seemingly basic commercials shot on white screens featuring Justin Long as the Apple guy and a guy that looked like Bill Gates as the Windows guy. The campaign was brilliant and gave Apple an opportunity to overtake Windows as the premier desktop and laptop computer source. It’s safe to say they succeeded and when they coupled its new computer success with its iPhones the sky was the limit for that little company Lt. Dan smartly invested in for his pal Forest. I’m still waiting for Apple to launch a new campaign showing Siri is still the queen of talking devices.
Another player that is trying to give Alexa a run for its money is a lot closer to Amazon’s stock than Apple. Any guesses? Okay. It’s Google which was valued at 1114.21 at the closing bell Jan. 8. Google has an answer to Amazon and Alexa. Enter Google Home. It is similar to the Echo and offers many of the same features. However, when it searches something, it is powered by Google which makes it more appealing than the Echo. If you search for “Google Chrome” on Amazon its page of Echo’s and other devices linked to Alexa comes up. In fact, not even Google’s answer to the Amazon Firestick, the Chromecast can be purchased on Amazon. Ironically, the Apple version of the Firestick which is called the “Apple TV” can be purchased on Amazon. If this doesn’t tell you what company Amazon fears more nothing else will.
The Echo 2nd generation is currently $99.99 on Amazon and if you have Prime it can be on your doorstep in two days. A Google Home unit is currently $129 on bestbuy.com. It also has a mini version that is currently $49. The Echo has a smaller version called a “Dot” and is $49.99. Amazon’s Alexa and Google seem to be in a match race with Apple and Siri seemingly getting left behind.