Will we soon talk to our devices to shop and bank? The "internet-of-things" may enable such things and Amazon is fully engaged: some even believe the Amazon Echo could become "the new iPhone".
Speech-operated personal assistant
Imagine this: you order a pizza from the comfort of your chair or from your car and a speech-operated personal assistant will take care of everything else. That is what Amazon promises to do with Echo: you can not only order items through speech, but keep grocery lists, plan meetings or play your favourite music on the Alexa app.
The gadget is incredibly popular in the United States (but it is not available in Europe yet): every new shipment is sold out within two weeks. Prices on eBay even go up to 300 dollars, from Amazon's original price of180 dollars. Its product range is also slowly expanding: Amazon launched two new versions earlier this month, a portable version called Echo Tab and a wireless version that connects to an existing speaker system (Echo Dot).
Banking world is interested
The growing interest from the banking world shows that the Echo is more than a mere gadget. American group Capital One has recently given its customers the opportunity to pay their bills through the Amazon Echo, while major banking giants (Citigroup and Wells Fargo) are examining whether and when the gadget will define the future of (online) banking.
No wonder the New York Times wonders whether Amazon Echo may become the new iPhone: "The longer I use it, the more regularly it inspires the same sense of promise I felt when I used the first iPhone — a sense this machine is opening up a vast new realm in personal computing, and gently expanding the role that computers will play in our future", technology journalist Farhad Manjoo said.
The paper describes the Amazon Echo as the "most promising candidate for the title of Next Great Gadget" and points out it is "not made by Apple, Google, Facebook or Microsoft", but by "a company whose last big foray into consumer electronics, the Fire Phone, was a humiliating flop." How things can change...