- Amazon unveiled 13 new hardware products, along with a slew of new services and Alexa updates, at an event on Thursday.
- The new products give Amazon a greater reach than ever before. It now offers everything from an Alexa-enabled microwave, to high-end audio equipment, to a wall clock.
- Amazon’s reach exceeds that of other tech giants like Apple and Google, since it extends far beyond software and hardware. Amazon increasingly has the power to touch your life several times each day, in every place you spend your time.
At its event on Thursday, Amazon introduced 70 new things.
That’s right. At the start of the event, Amazon exec Dave Limp said “We’ve got 70 things to talk about.” If he was kidding, it was difficult to tell.
A lot of it was related to software – Amazon unveiled new ways to protect your home, new software updates for its popular Echo devices, and new ways for developers to tap into Amazon’s powerful and popular Alexa ecosystem.
But 13 of the new announcements were hardware products. Along with some practical new products with broad appeal – the Echo Dot, Echo Plus, and Echo Show – you can also now buy some head-scratching new Echo devices, including an Alexa-enabled microwave, high-end audio products with Alexa built-in, and even an Alexa wall clock. Seriously – a clock.
Now, Amazon can’t possibly believe all of these products will fly off the shelves. In fact, CEO Jeff Bezos has said as much in the past – he expects some of Amazon’s products to be total flops, in the name of experimentation.
These products exist because selling a lot of them isn’t really the point for Amazon – which by the way, is within spitting distance of a $US1 trillion public valuation. The point is, the new products provide choice, and in turn, open up even more ways that Amazon can sneak into your life.
Amazon can sneak up on you
Think about it like this: say you’re someone who doesn’t consider herself or himself to be particularly “connected” or “tech-y.”
But you like to shop on Amazon, so you sign up for Amazon Prime. Prime Day rolls around, so you buy yourself an Echo Dot, since it’s on sale. While you’re shopping, you realise you need a new microwave, and notice the Amazon sells a cheap one that’s Alexa-enabled. Neat! That’s the only part of your life that’s Amazon-y though, you swear … except that you also shop at Whole Foods, because you now get discounts for being a Prime customer. Oh, and don’t forget all the books you read on your Kindle.
All of a sudden, there are five Amazon touchpoints in your daily life – and you’re barely scratching the surface.
What about the customers with Fire TVs, and Echo devices in every room? What about the person who puts Amazon in their car, in their doorbell, or in their security cameras? Or the person who shops at Amazon’s Go stores and uses Amazon’s Dash buttons?
There’s a big difference between Amazon and Google
There’s a key reason why Amazon’s reach differs from that of Google or Apple. While Apple makes hardware and software that you use every single day, most of its reach ends when you put down your phone or shut your laptop – and largely the same with Google, although the search giant does have its own smart-home play.
But Amazon extends far beyond a $US50 piece of hardware or a popular voice assistant – Amazon isn’t just another tech giant selling gadgetry. It’s in the towels you buy for your bathroom; it’s in the clothes you wear; it’s in your TV; it’s in your food. It creates the shows and movies you watch, and it’s in your home appliances. At this point, it could even be in the outlets in your walls.
There are now an almost unlimited number of ways Amazon can insert itself into your daily life, and it doesn’t show any sign of slowing down. None of this is to say that Amazon’s expansive reach is nefarious, or harmful to your privacy and independence…although Amazon and other tech giants have faced increased scrutiny in recent months over just how much power they have.
But if you think you live outside of Amazon’s reach, you may need to think again.
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