One way to gauge a topic’s pop culture relevance is to ask if it has been spoofed on Saturday Night Live (SNL) yet. In the case of the Amazon Echo, the answer is now “yes.”
In the episode with host Melissa McCarthy and musical guest Haim, a two minute and thirty second skit ran, introducing the Amazon Echo “Silver” device for a special generation: elderly people. This speaker came from the writers’ imaginations to help bring the elderly population up-to-speed with today’s latest technology.
Yes, the jokes were aimed at seniors and were stereotypical, (but hey, I was laughing) but with Amazon’s recent release of two new Echo devices – the Look and the Show – I have to wonder if SNL was making fun of senior citizens or of Amazon itself.
While the Echo devices have no doubt been popular and helped bring smart home automation to the masses, it is still a consumer category that needs some adaptation and growth. Amazon is not waiting for us to catch up to what smart homes can do – they are just blazing ahead (and it might be because they need to keep the edge over Google and Apple).
Either way, the skit was funny and even Amazon itself took the spoof in stride and featured the Echo Silver “as seen on SNL” on their social media pages.
Here are the top features of the Echo Silver device:
- The first thing you notice is that the Echo Silver looks nothing like the other Echo devices. In fact, it looks like…well, something you would see in your grandparent’s house. It has a silver base, and is half decorative silver and half wood finish.
- The Echo Silver is “super loud” so that even the hard of hearing are able to use the device.
- The Echo Silver addresses one of the most annoying things about the device: the wake word. While regular device need to be prompted with “Alexa,” “Amazon,” or “Echo” to activate, the Silver edition understands that senior citizens don’t need the hassle of trying to remember another name; they already mix up their grandchildren. Instead, Silver will activate and respond when any name that kind of sounds like “Alexa” is spoken, including Anita, Allegra and Excedrin.
- Silver is patient, will repeat answers, and if necessary, will even remind the user what question they asked.
- Silver will break hard news, like telling its senior owner that an actor or sports star has been dead for many, many years when they have forgotten. It will also give them peace of mind when neighborhood kids are running around, by reminding the user that the kids are just playing.
- Silver’s most genius feature, though, is that it will interject with the occasional “uh-huh” when its owners are rambling on about who-even-knows-what.
- As an added bonus: the Echo Silver is available to order through the commercial using a check or money order.
There is some question as to whether this is a 100% genuine skit, or if it is a form of paid advertising and product placement. SNL has been accused of doing this in the past (though there hasn’t been confirmation by SNL or by brands involved – in fact brands have denied using this tactic).
What do you think? Is SNL on to something that Amazon should take note of? Maybe the Echo Silver will be a reality one day.