Amazon’s new smart-home device, the Amazon Echo, has been one of the most hyped products of 2015. It can best be thought of as a voice-driven personal assistant — think Apple’s Siri or Google Now — but in hands-free speaker form.
The Echo accepts voice commands and performs a variety of tasks, from playing (and purchasing) music, to creating shopping lists, and completing simple web searches.
In a new research report from BI Intelligence, we test the Echo’s capabilities, and analyse its potential as a media, e-commerce, and smart-home device. We also consider its impact on Amazon’s ecosystem, and whether hands-free, voice-driven personal assistants will become a popular device category in the connected home.
The Echo is deeply integrated with Amazon’s loyalty program, Amazon Prime. The Echo retails for $US99 to Prime members and $US199 to non-Prime members. The device ties into other Prime-only services such as Amazon Prime Music.
- We found the Echo performs well as a voice-activated music player and for very basic internet search queries, but still has a long way to go before it can be effective for shopping and e-commerce or as a full-fledged digital assistant.
- We believe the Echo’s full potential could be unlocked if Amazon improves e-commerce integration and opens the Echo to a wider variety of third-party apps. The Echo’s voice-purchasing feature, which allows users to initiate Amazon purchases with simple voice commands, points to wider e-commerce tie-ins.
The full report:
- Tests the Echo’s music, news, weather, connected home, trivia, and e-commerce features
- Analyses the potential for the Echo and other voice-driven personal assistants in the connected home
- Examines the current demand for the Echo and how it is outstripping current supply
- Considers the opportunity in smart-home digital-assistant devices
- Provides a forecast of the market for voice-recognition and -processing tech
- Tests the Echo’s voice-recognition software on specific queries
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Disclosure: Jeff Bezos is an investor in Business Insider through his personal investment company Bezos Expeditions.