But the release date for the HomePod is several months away. Will Amazon find a way to pre-empt Apple’s plans before the December delivery date?
Admittedly, Amazon is seeking dominance for the Echo devices in a fairly narrow area, but it’s a good indication of what the company has in mind for ecommerce in general. After all, those Prime Air planes are part of Amazon’s effort to sell products more cheaply and to deliver them more quickly than anyone else.
Amazon’s goal in ecommerce is to be able to deliver those products to buyers more quickly than they get them if they went to the store themselves. Amazon Prime Now is getting close to that goal already, at least for customers in some areas of the U.S. Likewise Amazon’s grocery delivery business is trying to make it faster and easier to buy food than you could on your own.
When I’ve tried Amazon’s grocery delivery, I was able to buy a selection of things I’d forgotten when I went to the grocery store a few days before and have them delivered in less than two hours. Other stores, including a number of grocery chains, are trying to compete by providing grocery pick-up at their stores once you’ve ordered online, and Walmart is trying to compete with online ordering at a discount.
But Amazon is trying to eliminate the trip to the store completely. As nice as it is to be able to order milk and bread and then have it delivered to your car when you get to the store, it’s a lot nicer to have someone else deliver it right to your door. Right now, this is the one thing that Amazon’s competitors have failed to grasp, that it’s about more than just lower prices, it’s about having what you want cheaply and immediately.
And this is where Amazon’s parallel efforts come together. Amazon is selling its flagship Echo at half price, or $89.99. Google, in an effort to compete with Prime Day, has dropped the price on its Google Home to $99. Amazon has also dropped the price on its Echo Dot, which is the top selling voice controlled device on the market, by $15.
And that’s the other part of the equation. Each of those Amazon Echo devices is also a personal ordering terminal that connects directly to Amazon. Those devices also provide access to Amazon’s Prime Music collection and to a variety of other services. All of this is direct competition with Apple Music.
I don’t think that Amazon’s competitors have realized exactly what they’re facing. After all, it’s not really about the products that Amazon sells, it’s about immediate wish-fulfillment delivered with a simple spoken request. Even Walmart can’t deliver that.