Amazon Adds Its Voice to Super Bowl 50

by Parks Associates | Jan. 27, 2016

It took Amazon 50 Super Bowls before the company decided to plunk down around $5 million for 30 seconds of TV time. In all fairness, though, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos was only three when SB1 aired and his company’s name was generally associated with that big river that flows through Brazil, Peru and Columbia.

Come Sunday February 7, the Seattle-based retailer will be front and center with Alec Baldwin and former Miami Dolphin great Dan Marino extolling the wonders of the Amazon Echo. The Echo came to market in November 2014 amidst great skepticism and was hailed by pundits as a useless appliance that imitated Siri’s functionality but lacked the Apple voice-powered concierge’s mobility and functionality.

Two milestones signify Amazon’s belief in the nine-plus-inch tall cylindrical voice-activated personal assistant: In June 2015, the company announced The Alexa Fund, a $100 million fund for developers who wanted to add Echo functionality to their products. Alexa, by the way, is the name users must say to speak a command to the device. As in, “Alexa, what is the capital of North Dakota?” Over time, with seed funding behind it, Amazon and the Echo have become key players in the recent spurt in new smart home gadgetry, which leads to event number two--CES 2016, which produced a PR frenzy and a laundry list of device manufacturers whose products now interact/interoperate with the Echo. As in, “Alexa, turn off my lights.” Knowing Amazon’s penchant for making difficult things relatively easy for the consumer, the setup that links Echo to Scout Alarms or Vivint’s ecosystem is no doubt relatively straightforward.

After failing in its attempt to be a manufacturer of smartphones, it appears Amazon is content to become a voice-powered hub for all smart things in the home and stay away from creating branded smart gizmos. With that approach, the company can make hay from any number of categories ranging from smart light bulbs to major appliances. If past Amazon strategy holds true, in the near future searching on “smart home products and Echo” will reveal an array of goodies that not only keep your home secure, but make your morning joe with the words “Alexa, coffee. Now.”

Less we forget, Amazon already knows a lot about us. The Echo becomes yet one more data stream that can add key behavioral data to its already massive amount of bits and bytes that speak to our book buying, TV watching and general shopping habits. Amazon’s knowledge of my home coffee drinking habits via the Echo will be a siren song to Starbucks and others who would like to sign customers up to receive fresh beans when they are close to running low. The power of the subscription economy is not lost on a company whose 2015 revenue was north of $25 billion. Before we get ahead of ourselves and bow down to a possible future king of smart home hubs, competitors such as Apple and major service providers stand in the way of market dominance. The green flag will be waved come Super Bowl Sunday when Amazon uses the team of Baldwin and Marino to showcase Echo’s appeal to a mass audience. Keep your eye on audience reaction and subsequent smart home product sales. The race is on.



Next: A Smarter World Starts With an Exchange of Value
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