“In less than a year, Amazon’s combination of the Echo speaker system and the Alexa voice-controlled digital assistant has come close to delivering on the elusive promise of easy-to-use technology that can control gadgets in the home with a few spoken words,” Stephen Nellis reports for Reuters. ” Amazon.com Inc’s surprise success sets up a long-term battle with Apple Inc. and Alphabet Inc’s Google for primacy in the connected household. And the contours of that competition are following a classic tech industry dynamic.”

“Amazon is pursuing an open-systems approach that allows quick development of many features, while Apple is taking a slower route, asserting more control over the technology in order to assure security and ease-of-use,” Nellis reports. “The strategic importance of the ‘connected home’ niche looms large: Amazon wants a way to own its customer interactions -mainly shopping online – without an Apple phone or a Google Web browser as an intermediary.”

“Apple needs to keep the iPhone at the center of customers’ lives, and has built a whole home automation architecture, called Homekit, into its smartphone,” Nellis reports. “Google is behind in the race, with its speaker only hitting the market in November and compatible with a handful of gadgets beyond Nest and Dropcam, which the company also owns.”

“Mark Mahaney, an analyst and managing director with RBC Capital Markets, estimates Amazon sold as many as 10 million Alexa-enabled devices over the holiday season,” Nellis reports. “Google hasn’t disclosed sales for its Home speaker. Apple has declined to comment on reports that it has a voice-activated speaker in the works.”

“Amazon acknowledges that unlike Apple, it can’t guarantee the security of third-party devices. A company spokeswoman did note that sensitive commands like unlocking doors have an extra layer of security such as a voice-controlled PIN,” Nellis reports. “Still, it’s not clear whether Apple’s elaborate but slow-to-develop system will have enough advantages to overcome Amazon’s widening lead.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Apple’s path is much, much more secure and the quality of the interactions between components in much more guaranteed (it just works). That said, one need only look at a Windows PC (Mac knockoff) or an Android phone (iPhone knockoff) or a Windows/Android tablet (iPad knockoff) to see that the world is littered with wannabes that, for the undiscerning riffraff, seems “good enough” on which to waste their money.

As for Amazon Echo-type devices:

Something along the lines of Amazon Echo is what Apple should have done if run by competent, forward-thinking management. When Apple finally does do their version of Amazon Echo (and they will get around to doing such a product eventually) they will rightly be called a follower. The company had all of the ingredients to make their own Echo, before Amazon, except for the vision, it seems.MacDailyNews, March 29, 2016

And, as we wrote last June:

There could be a psychological component to this that leads people use Alexa over Siri precisely because they know the Echo is there (it’s a physical object), but forget about Siri being everywhere, even on their wrists (because Siri is embedded inside devices that are “for other things” in the user’s mind (telling time, watching TV, computing, phone calls, etc.) and therefore “hidden” to the user. Hence, Siri gets forgotten and goes unused while people use Alexa…

Again: We believe people use Alexa because Amazon Echo is a physical manifestation of “her,” while forgetting about Siri even though she’s on their wrists at all times and/or in their iPhones and iPads because Siri is hidden inside objects whose primary function is something other than “personal assistant” in people’s minds (watch, TV, phone or tablet, as opposed to “Siri.”) Alexa is present thanks to the Amazon Echo. Siri is absent because she has no such counterpart; no physical manifestation.

Siri is a ghost. Alexa is that cool, fun, glowing tube right there on the counter.

Apple would do well to not discount the psychology behind why people use certain features, even though cold, hard logic tells them it’s a redundant and unnecessary product.

An “Apple Echo” device would sell in the millions of units per quarter and boost Siri usage immensely.

Again, boosting Siri usage will improve Siri for everyone as it will more input data (“Ah, input! More input!” – Number 5) from which to learn.

24.5 million voice-first devices will ship this year; mainly Amazon Echos – January 26, 2017
Apple’s Amazon Echo echo: What if AirPort Extreme becomes the Siri speaker? – December 1, 2016
Apple abandons development of wireless routers – November 21, 2016