How Amazon Is Winning the Future From Apple and Google
But mere "access" to Apple's and Google's IPAs means nothing. These just come free with the phone or apps that people get for other reasons. Every user of Alexa went out of his or her way to buy and use the dedicated IPA appliance.
More to the point, I'd be willing to bet that usage of Alexa is orders of magnitude higher than either Siri or Google Now as a percentage of users who have "access" to each. Stated another way: Most Echo users I talk to are heavy daily Alexa users. Most people with access to Siri or Google Now use those services either rarely or never.
The last time I checked, the Amazon Echo is making most of the "Gift Guide" recommendation lists.
If my personal experience and informal polling are accurate, every new Amazon Echo user is someone who will stop using Siri or Google Now or will be introduced to the wonderful world of IPAs through Amazon's version of it and will never even seriously use Siri or Google Now.
I believe that if Apple or Google shipped a dedicated Echo-like IPA appliance, usage of their respective platforms would skyrocket.
So why haven't they done so yet?
The failure of the companies to ship an Echo-like appliance is an act of gross negligence, the result of a massive blind spot about this category.
Why Amazon's Kitchen Computer Could Kill the Competition
A Wall Street Journal exclusive in late August reported that Amazon's visionary Silicon Valley-based Lab126 is working on a kitchen-specific version of the Echo called Kabinet, which has a screen.
I already use my Echo as a kitchen computer. It lives on the fridge, and I use it for converting measurements, setting cooking timers and other cooking tasks. Give it a screen and add third-party appliance support, and this thing would be a must-have device, as far as I'm concerned.
By third-party appliance, I mean kitchen scales, refrigerators, ovens and other smart devices that would enable you to cook via voice.
The danger here for Apple and Google is that IPAs are platforms that engender loyalty. Once a consumer befriends Alexa, they're unlikely to go back. As more users embrace Alexa and reject Siri and Google Now—and as the capabilities of IPAs increasingly replace basic actions like Web search, email, messaging and calendaring—Apple and Google may find themselves on the sidelines of computing while Amazon dominates.
Five years from now, we'll all wonder: How did Apple and Google let Amazon take over computing when all they had to do was ship a simple IPA appliance?
I'm sure Alexa will have a good answer.