Apple should make a stationary voice command device like Amazon’s Echo

“Amazon.com sure did stumble on a sleeper hit with its Echo speaker,” Evan Niu writes for The Motley Fool. “When the product was first introduced a couple years back, the initial reaction was fairly muted. Isn’t Echo little more than a Bluetooth wireless speaker?”

“But the real reason why Amazon’s virtual assistant Alexa became so powerful within Echo was specifically because the device was not a mobile device, which is somewhat counterintuitive at a time when mobile devices are all the rage. By choosing to make Echo a stationary device that’s plugged in all the time, Amazon was able to change the consumer expectation. Echo would always be on, and Alexa would always be listening from a centralized location,” Niu writes. “That was the key that surprised the market.”

“Particularly in the context of smart home use cases, this is a huge advantage. Many other virtual assistants reside on smartphones (or tablets), and the user has to wonder where the device is, whether or not it’s plugged in and charged, and if it’s actively listening for input,” Niu writes. “Ironically, Apple was the first to the virtual assistant market with Siri, but has arguably fallen behind despite its first-mover status… With the recent demonstrable demand for voice-powered stationary speakers with virtual assistants, it seems like a no-brainer that Apple should introduce a similar product.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Funny, we just say “Hey Siri” and there she is – everywhere and at all times – because she’s on our wrist during every waking hour, wherever we are, in every place, not stuck on a table in one room somewhere.

That said, there clearly is a market for such stationary devices that can be plugged into the wall, not dependent on battery power. As we wrote last month:

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.

SEE ALSO:
Google unveils its Amazon Echo knockoff called ‘Google Home’ – May 18, 2016
Where’s Apple’s answer to Amazon Echo? – March 31, 2016
Amazon Echo leads mindshare in smart home platform war – February 29, 2016

31 Comments

    1. Strangely that was my thought while reading this. A killer application just sitting there waiting to be discovered for such a device and yet no one at Apple even considered that it might make an otherwise bland pointless product more than worthwhile. Mind you if Apple had produced the echo you can guarantee it would have got less than positive feedback especially from the trolls who now use it as a Stone Age club to batter poor old Cook with. A fickle lot.

  1. “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.”

    Okay question answered. You would jump off the bridge.

      1. Echo is head and shoulders above Siri. I don’t have one but have seen them. Apple using Siri will be frightening. Siri just ain’t that good and no where near as effective.

        1. I’d have to agree with you. Initially my Echo was about as good as Siri. However, thanks to the feedback app the Echo has improved at a tremendous rate. After five months it is now far better than Siri.

          Siri desperately needs a feedback app like the Echo. With a feedback app I’m hoping that Siri will improve as much and as quickly as my Echo.

          1. Siri definitely has a lot of catching up to do, but the advantage is that it’s installed in most iOS devices and soon will be in Macs. I see no need for a stand-alone device when Siri is on our phones, computers and on our wrists.

      2. Siri SUCKS!

        Despite supposed upgrades Siri still has a hard time understanding!

        The commercials make her seem like she’s useful…. In the real world…. She has a hard time understanding….. Unless you talk like a freaking robot! Siri SUCKS…..

    1. I think that Evan Niu and The Motley Fool is getting ready to jump the shark. Echo gets a bit of a following and they think that Apple should copy the Echo? Who wants an always on speaker in their home tied into Amazon servers? Not me…I read 1984 and I have no intention of helping to create that future/past.

      The future is miniature and mobile. Charging is not such a big deal now, and it will become less of an issue over time as batteries continue to improve and circuitry continues getting smaller and more energy efficient. I want a device that can respond when I need it and wherever I am, and that device is not an Echo.

  2. I’m in for an Apple stationary Siri only if it has the same safeguards of encryption, Secure Enclave, and privacy protection for iCloud storage of prior searches as iOS devices possess. Echo and goog’s knockoff scare the hell outta me for a dystopic Orwellian constant surveillance

  3. My brother has one of these and has it linked to household devices…it is pretty slick. Comparing it to Siri is silly as it fills a different niche. Ask Siri to play music for example..in your home..on a stereo..not gonna happen at the moment.

  4. I doubt Apple will ever deploy such a useless device. I doubt that many have ever been sold and after the initial out of the box experience, they just sit there doing nothing but listening to you sending it to who knows where.

  5. Seems like a small market, mostly for geeks. Fancy speakers, basically. But most people are very particular about their speakers and unlikely to want to be locked into a specific one. And all this stuff about answering questions, not really very useful. Back to the days when people raved about how computers could store recipes.

    Biggest problem is that it isn’t mobile. And mobile is where everything is heading. Rather than invest in making a good small speaker, Apple is much better off investing it’s technology into making really great wireless headphones and earbuds.

    1. Shut up stupid. You’re a broken clueless one note record no one wants to hear from. You’re done. News of your demise however would be treated with the most welcoming & greatest cheering, hallelujahs! and relief.

      1. Huh, you’ve just described your only “good” virtues. Everything else is just more abject failure and qualities of an uber-loser. Sucks to be One Note Doofus Joe I can tell you. Well HE tells you every time by the juvenile quality of his posts. Fortunately cretins like One Note Doofus Joe have short attention and life spans. Living in a world of sizzling hate and anger does that to a Joe-ish body.

  6. Amazon has only sold 2 million echoes at $129-$179 each versus 20+million Apple watches sold in less time at $300 – $1000 to 15k+. Which business would you recommend?

  7. Amazon loves this because if you shop with your Echo you are NOT price comparing. You are just buying whatever Amazon serves you with whatever price they want to charge Echo users (once the attention of it being new fades) all in the name of convenience.

    1. If SIRI is allowed to interact with third-party apps then it will be as simple as, “Hey SIRI, buy me some more laundry detergent.” The order will go to Walmart, Amazon, or any other companies setup by the user. It would also be beneficial if SIRI could comparison shop and place the order with the least expensive product/company and/or quickest delivery time.

      If SIRI/Apple won’t allow past purchases to be recorded then a third-party app will probably be available to aggregate the various stores’ product information and pricing. This app would interact with SIRI.

      I imagine Amazon knows the above is inevitable and the Echo is a preemptive strike to thwart comparison shopping.

  8. Yea, sorry, I don’t want devices listening to everything that I or my friends say … just as I also don’t want my texts/messages constantly monitored by “helpful assistants”, just as I don’t want my photos scanned and tagged, or all my online data mined or my web usage tracked, etc…

    People seem so willing to give up privacy in the name of convenience …that, or they just don’t realize why these companies are in business?

  9. Good for Amazon! A surveillance device for the home. And of course, copycat Google had to do the same thing. Check out today’s Joy Of Tech!

    Apple should make a non-stationary, anti-gravity voice command device that follows around through the home each designated users. There would be as many devices as there were logged in users.

    OR Users could wear headsets to both speak to and hear from a central stationary hub device. I think that’s a bit more likely.

    But first, Apple has some work to do on Siri in order to make it better emulate a fully capable voice servant. That is the cutting edge: Getting closer to something actually ‘intelligent’, whatever that means. It really is a storm of growing demand for something better than our advanced Expert Systems that currently pass as so-called Artificial Intelligence. Cars need it. Airport security needs it. IOT needs it. Smart devices need it. And I’m not talking about voice recognition and text-to-voice technology. That’s already evolved and evolving. The difficulty is the actual ‘thinking’ once the input data has been perceived.

    And my usual point: Technology is a tool for benefitting we humans. If it is ever used to abuse us, someone screwed up, badly. IOW: DARPA, thanks for helping. But humanity is driving off a cliff of self-destruction if we continue to pursue using technology to KILL our fellow humans. Watch…

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