One thing is for sure, not only are Amazon’s devices so American centric, they also often fall short in terms of sales outside the Unites States. Lets take an example of the recent Amazon Fire Phone that was initially costing $200 and now costs $ 0 in the US on contract. It’s clear the company got most things wrong; and now last week the company introduced a product called the Amazon Echo another future Amazon failure in the making if you ask me and here is why.
Amazon is basically trying to sell Echo as your family’s friend: a device that will answer the kid’s questions while they do their homework, and keeping a running shopping list for the parents without making them reach for a pen in the kitchen. The concern, though, is just how much listening Echo is doing. (See promo video below)
Amazon thinks that putting a microphone in a cylindrical box that can connect to internet and talk back to you is the future, don’t get me wrong its nothing simple to make but it’s a nonstarter. This is a product that is made to be eavesdropping on you 24/7. Given the power of Amazon’s recommendation engines and the amount of data it gathers just from casual browsing, you can certainly see where some of the paranoia might come from, too.
Echo’s technology is borrowed from several top acquisitions Amazon has made over the past few years.
- In 2011, Amazon bought Yap, a voice-to-text and speech recognition company
- In 2013, Amazon bought both Evi – a Siri-style app
So what the hell is Echo is listening to? This leads to several security concerns as the Echo tries to behave just like the Moto X, “always on” actually means “always listening for a specific command.” In Echo’s case, that’s either “Alexa” or “Amazon”, either of which will wake the column up and start it monitoring for more complex instructions.
Echo has a seven microphone array and beam-forming technology that are designed to listen to you wherever you are in the room, which suggests Echo can hear clearly from a lot further away than the length of most peoples’ arms.
The company claims it will be able to remotely upgrade Echo with new features, as well as add voice-controlled services in the cloud.
With the Echo, Amazon is still doing a lot of data collection in the background as a fast way to knowing you better so as to know what you will buy next from the Amazon store. Since you will be feeding it with things like your music playlists, daily shopping, the food you like to eat and other information. You should do all this noting that Amazon reserves the right to share your information, with “third party services”, though doesn’t confirm who they might be.
In the end, how much you trust Echo comes down to a more wide-ranging question about how you trust the cloud. On the one hand, there have been enough data leaks and privacy goofs over the past twelve months to make you understandably mistrustful of what’s going on with the servers of other; on the other, if you want the convenience features, cloud processing is still the most efficient and flexible way of doing it.
So apart from Echo not being a world-wide product like any other Amazon made device, plus the major issue of cloud security and privacy, this is a sure no-hoper for this eCommerce based company. It’s clear this product won’t see the day of light in places like Africa or Asia. This makes Amazon’s products like the Echo a sure failure in the making. They should pick a leaf from Google especially in their smartphone strategy. Unless Amazon opens up its store to the world, its new products will also have a hard time on the world market. Just like the Amazon Fire Phone, the Fire TV, or it’s new Fire Tablets, the Echo won’t be a hit product Amazon.