Screenless E-Commerce: Amazon Echo Is A New Interface To The Internet

Amazon Echo

Josh Stearns, Director, Journalism & Sustainability for Dodge Foundation, writes on Medium about his experience with Amazon Echo:

[After] almost a year of owning an Echo I’m amazed by how it has shifted how I access news and information, creating a layer of on-demand audio that I find myself relying on more and more.
I’ve been taking some notes, and wanting to write about this for awhile, but today’s edition of Nick Quah’s excellent Hot Pods newsletter finally gave me the nudge I needed to jot down my thoughts. He touches on how quickly the Echo is becoming a platform for everything from reading Kindle books aloud to listening to your local public radio station. (…)

The Tune-in integration also gives me access to most of the podcasts I listen to on a regular basis. So while I’m up to my elbows in suds washing dishes I can just say, “Play the most recent episode of 99% Invisible,” and it starts to play. (…)

However, one of the features I don’t see talked about much, but which I really like, is the Echo’s “flash briefing.” When you ask for your flash briefing Amazon delivers “pre-recorded updates from popular broadcasters (such as NPR, BBC News, and the Economist), the latest news headlines from The Associated Press, and weather information from AccuWeather.” These briefings are akin to the headlines that NPR plays at the top of the hour, and give a quick update about some of the biggest stories happening right now.

The Echo represents a new interface model to the internet (voice) and Amazon owns this category right now. Stearns:

As Nick Quah notes in his newsletter, “It’s a non-traditional way to interface with the Internet; not through keyboard, mouse, and monitor, but through structured conversation.”

Echo like the Dash family belongs to the very new category of “Screenless E-Commerce”, that Amazon itself is pushing more than anybody else. (Anybody who has a better idea how to call this new category, I’m all ears.)

Unlike with the Dash family, with its use case for frictionless buying of consumables, it is a bit more complicated as to how exactly Echo will be an E-commerce interface.

There will, fundamentally, be two ways:

  1. You can order items via voice.
  2. Amazon Echo as an integration play: Amazon prefers products that integrate with Echo. “Echo/Alexa Inside” could in a few years time be for Amazon a way to say that these products offer added value by being accessible this way. (for features of the products and status updates (like the level of used-up consumables..)) Add marketplace, fulfillment by Amazon, Amazon Prime and AWS into the mix and Amazon could go deeper and deeper into the electronic devices themselves that are selling on Amazon. The levers become legion.

(1) is for directly facilitating transactions. (2) can become a very strong moat; and more.

More on Amazon Echo:

8 comments

  1. Great Initiative for Internet of Things (IOT).

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