Really, Amazon? Give a gal (and her credit card) a break! Now tempting me is the Amazon Echo, announced and offered today. What the hell is it? Well, it’s a speaker, streaming audio device, and a digital assistant (like Google Now or Siri without a screen), and as TechCrunch points out, it could be a cash machine for Amazon.
I’ve been a Prime member for years and I’ve had an Amazon.com account for almost 20 years, and we’ve already seen with my JIBO pre-order that I see the potential for a stationary digital home assistant, so of course I requested an invitation to purchase one. At $99 for Prime members, and since I don’t have a working Bluetooth speaker right now, the price is pretty good. My husband has been bothering me for Christmas gift ideas, too, so I could rationalize it that way.
TechCrunch‘s analysis is probably on point: Prime members buy more from Amazon, they get a 50% discount on the Echo, and you can be sure that voice-controlled purchasing will be a feature. I’m fine with that. I’ve got most of my shopping impulses under control (except for robots and digital assistants, it seems). If I could notice the dog food is getting low and simply say, “Alexa, order Acana dog food,” and have it check my order history, confirm size and variety, and place the order, I’d do a happy dance to streamed Amazon Prime music.
The privacy-aware part of me squirms a bit when I think about the multiple relationships I have with Google and Amazon, but I think they are still beneficial exchanges of data, money, goods, and services. I’ll probably order the Echo if I get an invitation in the first round. Probably.