Smart home artificial intelligence is really a thing, finally, after years of speculation and general wishful thinking. The most eyebrow-raising part, though, isn’t the advancement of technology itself, but the company that was behind the biggest push to get AI into the home.
That company, of course, is Amazon; a household name in e-commerce, and now, in smart home digital assistants. If that declaration seems weird to you, you’re not alone.
With so many big tech-focused companies out there – Apple, Google, Samsung – you wouldn’t think Amazon would lead the pack in AI, but it’s Echo product line and Alexa AI system are one of the most recognizable for the general public.
Currently, Amazon offers the five different Alexa-centric devices: original Echo, the Echo Tap, the Echo Look, the Echo Show, and the Echo Dot. It has also integrated Alexa into its streaming devices, the Amazon Fire and Amazon Fire Stick.
So, how did this tech underdog become the leader of the pack? Here are two key reasons:
People Underestimated Amazon.
Amazon has been underestimated for pretty much its entire existence. Even though Amazon is a retail and technology powerhouse that continues to disrupt those industries, its competitors weren’t really worried.
They were worried about each other, but not Amazon. Because Amazon was thought to be more of an experimental company in the general tech space – releasing phones, tablets, and streaming device – it was also thought to be far behind, technologically, than the big players. But behind the scenes Amazon was developing AI without all the public pressure that the other companies were facing.
People assumed that Amazon was probably looking at what the other big companies had already produced, so that it could produce its own version. But they were working on something much different – something that we had only seen in futurist movies.
Amazon Looked Toward the Future.
That forward thinking leads us to reason number two: quite simply that Amazon looked to the future while everyone else was looking at the present.
Most big tech companies spent the last few years looking at how to add more AI capabilities to one of our most prized possessions, our smart phones. Amazon had already ventured into the smart phone arena, and flopped pretty hard. But they bounced back and realized it was time for them to move on to something new; something that didn’t exist yet.
Alexa is certainly not the first dedicated digital assistant, and it still might not be the best, but it was the first system to be put into a device with a completely home-based objective. Turns out, consumers were ready for their helpful tech to move beyond just phones and PCs.
While everyone was wondering how to add more AI to existing devices, Amazon looked ahead to a figure where there was a brand new device, focused on AI first.
That strategy obviously worked, as Alexa is the most popular AI, and is only growing more and more with more devices and more integrations.