Why an ‘Apple Echo’ would be a hit

“When Amazon first introduced the Echo—its cylindrical, AI-enhanced digital assistant/speaker—reaction was mixed. Who would actually want that?,” Tim Bajarin writes for PC Magazine. “A lot of people, it turns out. Amazon’s answer to Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana, and Google Now is a hit; researchers believe Amazon will sell upwards of 4 million this year.”

“The popularity of Echo inspired Google to create its Google Home hub, CEO Sundar Pichai acknowledged at Google I/O,” Bajarin writes. “I’m not convinced Apple needs anything else. In my home, the Apple TV sits in our living room but the Echo is in the kitchen, the hub of most of our activity… If Apple does jump in, which I doubt it will, it would only do so with a product that is superior to what is on the market now. But why bother? If you think about it, with Siri in an iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and Apple TV, you already have access to a voice assistant any time you need one. The “hub” is on your wrist, in your pocket, or next to your TV.”

“I suspect that over time Apple will continue to make Siri’s AI-based voice assistant even more powerful and more indispensible to Apple customers,” Bajarin writes. “By opening it up to developers this week, meanwhile, Siri will be able to better compete with Alexa.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: We understand Bajarin’s reasoning, but 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 – even Bajrin himself, who’s chosen to place Alexa in his kitchen, the hub of most of his family’s activity.

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.


  1. 4 million in a year… That would be considered a complete failure if this was an Apple product. Hell, pundits declare 4 million in a single quarter a “failed” product for Apple.

    1. Your mistake is think Apple would only sell as many as Amazon. Apple would feature the product at a special media event, with a Jony Ive video and big ad campaign and feature the “Appel Echo” in every Apple Retail Store. “Apple Echo” sales vs. Amazon Echo would be like iPhone sales vs. Amazon Fire Phone.

  2. Siri is a platform supported by a billion+ devices. Echo is a product. Unless Amazon has the resources, time and know-how to develop an AI platform, it won’t be able to compete. So far, Amazon has failed to make a dent in the market (while I suspect the 4 million number is dubious at best, it’s still minuscule compared to what Google and Apple have planted in the community). Their phone and tablet attempts have already gone down in flames. Let Google and Amazon race to the bottom of the ‘talking/listening speaker in your kitchen’ market. Meanwhile, Apple can rely on their 3rd party partners to make great devices that leverage Siri- Sonos anyone?

  3. I would buy a Siri cylinder. The problem with Siri on phone or watch is that when I say “Hey, Siri,” I feel the need to look at the device as the screen comes up. If my phone is on the counter and I am facing the stove, I feel like I have to get closer to the phone to really interact so she can hearing me over the kitchen noises and I can hear her or see what she is displaying on the phone screen. If there were a cylinder with a better microphone and stereo speakers to rise above the din and make me more able to communicate from across the room, I would use it more.

    1. You bring up a good point.. With Siri, Google Now and Cortana there is a moment where you think “I am speaking to my mobile device/computer”. With Alexa you just pretty much say it to the air forgetting about the device.. Sort of more ‘Star Trek’ to me.. 🙂

  4. MDN – stop that.

    “We believe people use Alexa because Amazon Echo is a physical manifestation of “her,” while forgetting about Siri”

    No, they use Alexa because when you ask Alexa a question, it often answers you. When you ask Siri a question, you either get “I don’t know what you mean” or “Here’s what I found on the web…” If you have spent an hour in a room that has an Alexa, you should know this.

    “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.”

    They understand this. You’re describing the Apple watch.

  5. Why not make a simple low cost standalone front end for Siri? It would require an iPhone, Apple TV or other Apple device, and you could have multiple of these.

    Simply put, it’s the Apple TV Remote dedicated to Siri and asteticly addressed to look like a dedicated device for that purpose. You don’t hold it or touch it, just talk to it.

  6. I don’t own an Echo, but I find it hard to imagine what I would use it for. I use Siri on my watch in the kitchen for timers etc, but overall I rarely use Siri. I suppose having a dedicated device like Echo would make me use it more often, but as many people are pointing out, we already have the ability to do such things with our iPhones, iPads, watches and soon Macs. Apple has recently enabled the “hey Siri” feature, but that’s not really enough. Personally I think this kind of personal assistant technology is made for the sake of it rather than concentrating on what users will actually use it for. Personally I don’t work on the bridge of a star ship.

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