“Alexa, Who’s winning CES 2017?”
But, if you want to know just how significant Alexa is to the smart home market, then you only have to look at CES 2017. We are just a day in and the sheer level of partnerships the shopping megalith has sealed is impressive.
Although Google, Microsoft, Samsung and Apple are all beginning to compete with their smart home and voice assistant plays - Amazon has quickly stolen a march on the competition by brute force.
Even before 'CES proper' has started, the name on everyone’s tongue is Alexa.
Everyone's talking about Alexa
Amazon’s baby was a heavy presence at the traditionally huge LG conference, slotting into the company’s fridge so you can make sure you stick milk on your shopping list without going anywhere near a pen.
Car giant Ford’s big CES announcement was all about Alexa - letting you get your house ready before you get home, check the traffic or even start up your car without leaving your house. Which is, frankly, a bit alarming.
Then there's Lenovo, who has outed a smart-looking Echo rival with Alexa voice support. Vobot, on the other hand, have added Alexa to its smart alarm clock so you can now scream back at the thing that wakes you up and it will respond.
And the fun doesn’t stop there. Three smaller TV makers Seiki, Westinghouse and Element will offer Amazon functionality and Alexa through microphone-toting remote controls. Even audio company Monster are in on the Alexa action.
The CTA, the body behind CES, believes the final figure for devices equipped with Alexa will be nearing the 700 mark. It’s a remarkable set of announcements for Amazon as it looks to take on some of the biggest guns on good ship consumer electronics.
Amazon is clearly aware that to dominate the market you don’t have to be the best, you simply have to be good enough and at a price point where it becomes an easy addition to the home.
The Black Friday sales gave the company a perfect showcase for Echo - with millions visiting Amazon to snap up a bargain and getting a glimpse of the heavily marketed new devices and a chunk of discount as well.
Don’t discount the importance of the Dots that ended up as Christmas presents because of the relatively low cost.
This is, in truth, still early days for the smart home - and expect salvos from all the major players including the behemoth that is Apple - but momentum may be a crucial factor in the great smart home land grab.
If Amazon can continue to rack up partnerships with huge companies like LG and Ford, continue to add features (or ‘Skills’ in Amazon parlance) that let us take advantage of an always-on helper and continue to press home the early advantage then it may be Alexa, rather than Cortana or Siri that becomes the omnipresent voice in our lives.