Backchannel: ‘Voice Is the Next Big Platform, and Alexa Will Own It’

Jessi Hempel, in an oddly-certain (to me at least) piece for Backchannel:

Yet Amazon has a two-year jump on its competition, having first introduced the Echo speaker in November 2014. Sure, only five percent of American households have an Alexa-powered device right now. But, says longtime Forrester tech analyst James McQuivey, “Qualitatively, Amazon’s position is more secure than the numbers would indicate.” […]

Second, Alexa’s users are hooked on it. About a third of them turn to the tech three times or more every single day. “People are latching on to the idea that once it is in their home, they should use it,” says McQuivey. “It turns out having microphones in your environment is a lot more convenient than pulling out your phone.”

My devil’s advocate take:

  • Amazon never releases device sales figures, so that estimate of 5 percent of U.S. households is just that, an estimate.
  • Echo is still only officially available in the U.S.. Update: Whoops, it’s now also available in the U.K. and Germany. But still, very limited worldwide.
  • If it’s true that only “a third of them turn to the tech three times or more every single day”, that means two-thirds of Echo users use it fewer than three times a day. Some Echo users are clearly “hooked on it”, but the data Hempel herself is citing suggests that most Echo users are not hooked.

Again, that’s just my devil’s advocate argument. There are some actual factual signs that Amazon’s early lead in this market is meaningful. I just don’t see any such facts in Hempel’s piece here.

Monday, 26 December 2016