Editor's note: The birth of Amazon Alexa created a product category, followed by Google, Facebook, Apple and other technology companies. However, the products of Google, Facebook, Apple and other companies have realized their strategic value very directly. By contrast, the value Alexa brings to Amazon is less obvious? How do you understand this? Recently, Benedict Evans, A16Z partner, published an article on his blog pointing out that Alexa's direct value has not yet been clearly revealed, but Amazon is an experimental company that can find the end point and anything it can do is valuable for the future, even if nobody uses it to buy soap powder today.
It now sells 100 million devices (including third-party devices embedded in Alexa), not all of which are equivalent to active users, but even if 50 million users are using them, this is still an important part of Amazon's account.
Amazon has achieved tremendous success after the very limited success of the Fire tablet and the failure of the Fire Phone.
For similar devices like Google, Apple or Facebook, it's much easier to answer this question:
For these three companies, if you buy their smart speakers and use them for the most basic use case, that is, out-of-the-box, then the strategic goal is achieved.
On the other hand, Amazon sells things. Its TV programs help it sell products by driving Prime, so you can go to Amazon when you buy children's shoes or soap. It is not clear what Alexa has done about it.
In fact, survey data show that today people mainly use Amazon's smart speakers for audio playback (music and podcasts), weather and kitchen timers, plus some trivial problems and controlling smart lights.
If that's what people do, Alexa is at best a form of marketing for Amazon.
That is to say, Alexa has reached the level of a consumer-friendly product market, but not for Amazon.
So we recently got two statistics from Amazon about Alexa: 100 million units have been sold, and 10,000 people are working for Amazon.
There are several obvious clues to consider.
Another thing worth thinking about is that brands can use Alexa to help customers buy products. For example, there's an Alexa skill that tells you how to use a product when you need constant guidance and can't use your hand.
There's a fundamental user experience dilemma that needs to be addressed: the paradox of pure audio interfaces is that they look more flexible and free than graphical interfaces, but in fact they can't tell you what they can do.
But to go one step further, I think Alexa has a deeper strategic value.
A fundamental shift brought about by mobile devices is that users'devices become less neutral. On the desktop, web browsers have rather narrow limitations in controlling the economic and interactive modes of websites.
On smartphones, everything from system permissions to default applications to notification and interaction models (let alone in-app purchases) means that Apple and Android can more directly control how companies use these devices to reach customers.
Ironically, one of the main reasons why Google bought and developed Android was that it was afraid of what Microsoft and Nokia would do with that capability. Now Amazon is facing this problem.
For network platform companies, the end point has become more strategic. So, in order to get a destination of your own, anything you can do is valuable for the future, even if nobody uses it today to buy Soap powder.
Links to the original text:Https://www.ben-evans.com/benedictevans/2019/1/29/is-alexa-working