Alexa as a digital assistant fascinates me more than Siri, than voice-activated text messaging, and even self-driving cars, and according to this article and my own observations, it appears I’m not alone. Farhad Manjoo, the author of this article, suggests that Amazon has created what could be “the third great consumer computing platform of this decade — next to iOS and Android.”
A statement like this sounds like a bit of a reach. Android and iOS have changed everything I know and we know as a society about tech, just within the years of my adolescence. They’re so quickly evolving and so rapidly producing new phones and other products to accommodate their hyper-intelligent operating systems. Apple and Google function as services for so many aspects of our tech and digital consumption, including devices, and in this way I think of them as monopolies over the tech world, and it’s hard to compare Amazon services to corporations of this caliber.
Yet, as proven by the article, Amazon can’t be written off as a static, limited online goods service. They’re investing–wisely–into software which can be utilized for more than just a search engine-operated assistant. Alexa can turn on your lights, open the garage door, start up your coffee machine, find your favorite song. It’s “her” position within the home, and her eerily human voice that seem so nuanced to me. Even her trigger to respond to the user, saying her name, is distinctly intimate and humane. I would argue that this aspect specifically pushes Alexa to the top selling charts.
This platform functions in the same ways Android and iOS do, except Amazon assigned her a gender, an identity, and a functioning role within the household as a presence in the room. For these reasons, I can’t help but agree that Amazon is on its way to joining the forces that run our tech consumption.