The title of Brad Stone’s groundbreaking book about the nation’s largest online retailer Amazon is so much “Save All” that it can be a bit difficult to remember when it was just a bookstore. But Jeff Bezos’ ambitions are actually the largest in the country, and the twelve-plus Alexa devices, the company today announced the next step.
In tech history, incumbents need to beware of leapfroggers. Apple will never need to defend a dumb-phone business, so it would upend smartphones. T-Mobile had no fixed thought, so it could be the UnCarrier. Amazon never quite fit in the smartphone era, so it is unafraid to make the default operating system for the smart home era.
The new Alexa speakers are not the big deal today is announcements; that would be the wall clock and a microwave. Apple and Google still think that their voice assistants like outgrowths of the cell phone, because they come from a mobile phone OS divisions. Google is a bit better than Apple to know of a voice assistant is not actually a phone function: it is the interface to a new form of cloud-based computing.
But only Amazon is all-in. Only Amazon, now, seems to understand that if we are working in the direction of an everything-connected world, everything is going to need an interface, and that interface will be spoken. So Amazon is going fast and on multiple fronts, the way it works, to ensure that, while Apple and Google are working on their phone Os ‘, and (in the last ten years adult category), Amazon ends in each device in your home (the next ten years of the battlefield.)
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Where is Microsoft, by the way? Have Cortana fight against the aliens somewhere? Perhaps Microsoft’s problem is that the thinking is two generations old, as smart homes are Generation Z and smart phones are millennial, Microsoft is back in the Generation X with the Pc’s.
Amazon Wants Your House
Amazon has no limits and no restrictions. That is how the company bulldozed its way in the sale of everything, including competing with a lot of their customers with the AmazonBasics brand. But that also makes the company even more scary than Google when it comes to the invasion of your privacy.
Google wants to control and warp your mind. That is a problem. Google’s search results can have an impact on how we think about reality, and different political forces struggle over the question of whether the tweedle-dee and tweedle-dum of Google and Facebook are trying to slant our country in one way or another.
But Google has never really tried to physically enter your home with a man. Amazon has; it’s called the Amazon Button, and it gives Amazon delivery people access to your house. Google tracks your location, sure, but so far it is pretty weak on the whole permanent video surveillance deal. Amazon has several lines of home security cameras. Google really seems to want to map the outside world. With Amazon, the call is coming from the inside of your home.
All of these new Amazon devices new possibilities for data collection. The microwave is going to know what you are cooking. The wall clock … who knows? Don’t forget, this is a company with a camera that can watch you dress in the morning.
It will be interesting to see where people decide to draw boundaries. Echo do not Look out, but the Echo Place. The Place is designed to sit by your bedside as an alarm clock, and that has a camera, too. Amazon has the resources to try everything, of course, and it will.
Alexa Rise, Fall, Siri
Google has an event coming in the beginning of October, where we will hear more about smart home plans. But Apple seems to be very much of this loop. While Siri Shortcuts are compelling, Siri, the built-in and third-party functionality remains far behind both Alexa and Google Home page.
Some of that could be that Apple still think of Siri, a voice dialing system. Some of that could just be that Apple, a company that actually seems to like the human concept of privacy, not meaning to be as invasive as its competitors.
But in this race to do everything in smart homes, it seems like the smartest approach is to simply bulldozer through concepts of privacy and security, and just to throw it away product ideas that don’t take off. Amazon. Apple doesn’t seem to be.
This article originally appeared on PCMag.com.