3.5 Million Devices Sold, Amazon’s Echo Keeps Soaring

Amazon is an American electronic commerce and cloud computing company. Amazon.com started as an online bookstore, later branching out to sell MP3, CDs, DVDs and Blu-rays etc. Thereafter, the company forayed into design and production of consumer electronics – chief among them, Fire tablets, Fire TV and Amazon Kindle e-book readers.

However, a successful tech revolution that may forever change the consumer gadget market paradigm has taken place at Amazon.

It can be stated convincingly that Jeff Bezos, Amazon CEO couldn’t have imagined dabbling into the tech world much less producing a futuristic gadget like Echo when he created a list of 20 products that could be marketed online before lauching Amazon.com.

Source: Bloomberg

But courage and innovation can drag the most imaginary idea from the far-flung region of the human mind to solid reality.

Amazon introduced recently, two new Amazon Echo products called Echo Dot and Amazon Tap. The Amazon tap is an Alexa, Wi-Fi portable speaker that you can tap and ask anything.

Image source: youtube.com

How it works

 Plug in the speaker cable and you’ll hear the sound of Alexa waking up. She’ll say hello, then talk you through the setup process. Connect to the speaker’s Wi-Fi network on your phone or tablet, then sync things back up with your home network in the Alexa app. Tap the microphone button and ask for music from Prime Music, Spotify, Pandora, iHeartRadio, and TuneIn. It uses the Alexa Voice Service when connected to Wi-Fi or a mobile hotspot to play music, read the news, provide weather reports, and even order a pizza and can call up a taxi from Uber.

The speaker will light up whenever it hears you say its wake word, “Alexa”.  From there, you’ll tell the Echo what you want. Because the Echo is a good listener with a voice recognition technology, it will hear and obey your instruction even when there’s other conversation going on in the house.

Challenges

Hailed as a beacon for an entirely new computing paradigm in which Amazon suddenly has an edge on rivals such as Apple and Google, Amazon did not attain the technological feat without pain.

When the Amazon Echo team presented its plan to Bezos, he responded by saying: “I appreciate the work, but you don’t get to where it needs to be without a lot of pain. Let me give you the pain upfront: Your target for latency is one second,” as recounted by one early team member.

Jeff Bezos, Amazon CEO Image source: forbes.com

Echo’s major challenge was that there was no product of its kind in the market to refer to. Though Apple’s Siri and Google’s Voice Search were there, even Microsoft had the Kinect, but the concept for Echo was radically different in that it had no screen for users to interact with.

So, part of the  experiment involved a human “wizard” sitting in a separate room and responding in real-time to any voice query a human testing subject would make to the Echo, always without telling the tester in advance.

The objective was to collect information on what types of responses worked and what didn’t work.

How Amazon Echo broke even

When it finally launched, Amazon’s critics lampooned the company. Some dubbed it a worthless tech stunt. Then the unexpected happened: consumers said they loved it. Though Amazon has not released data about Echo’s market performance, but Consumer Intelligence Research Partners issued a report recently saying that Amazon had sold more than 3 million devices.

Echo’s success story seems to have amazed even insiders.  One of the early employees said Echo hit a million pre-orders in less than two weeks, a far better pace than the iPhone, which took about 70 days to reach the same milestone.

Featured image source: time.com