Amazon has an ecosystem of devices and technologies designed to give information. The user can activate it only by voice. In September of 2017, they have redesigned all the line. It represents an improvement in technology and also in marketing.
The Echo family has many devices. The names and the technical differences were confusing. They made some improvements in the technology, but more importantly, they organized the line and communicated it better.
Echo, Echo Plus, Echo Spot, Echo Show, Echo Dot, Echo Connect, Echo Look, Fire TV, Alexa
Let's briefly look at each model to be able to understand the whole picture.
- Amazon Echo is a hands-free speaker that the user can control with their voice. It provides information, plays music, and can connect with other devices. It is always on. The user can ask anything without the need to tap any button. They designed it to be used indoors, with the necessity of it being plugged into a power supply to make it work. In September of 2017, they improved it with better sound and a better price: $99,99.
- Echo Plus. It's similar to the Echo, but it includes a smart home hub. $149.99
- Echo Spot. It includes a 2.5" screen at an affordable price. $129.99
- Echo Show. It has a 7.0" screen. It can show security cameras and YouTube videos, as well as make video phone calls. $229.99
- Echo Dot. It is like the Echo but with a smaller speaker. It is cheaper than the Echo, and you can connect it to your existing speaker. It was not changed in September 2017. $49.99
- Echo Connect. It will let you make regular phone calls with only your voice. It's a complement to the other Echo devices. Amazon will release it in December 2017. $34
- Echo Button. They designed it to play games. It pairs with the other Echo devices. Amazon has not released the price nor the launch date.
- Echo Look can take photos and short videos using only your voice. You can see yourself from every angle. It will help Amazon sell clothes. It also has the current Echo features. It was not changed in September 2017. $ 199.99.
- Amazon Tap performs the same basic functions as the Echo. The difference is that the user needs to tap a button to activate the device. It has a battery. You can use it on the go. It is a bit smaller than the Echo, and it is water resistant.
- Fire Tv. It belongs to the Fire family brand, not the Echo brand. It's a dongle you connect to your tv to have channels, apps, movies, Netflix, YouTube. You can control the tv with your voice, and you can also have the rest of the features of the Echo line like playing music, asking internet information, or controlling smart home devices.
- Alexa is the keyword that awakens all the devices. It is the core system that powers the speakers. At the same time, Alexa is a company that provides commercial web traffic and data analytics. To be precise, the name is Alexa Internet Inc, and it is a subsidiary wholly owned by Amazon.com.
Amazon Assistant, the Marketing
The role of each brand in the Echo family is well-defined. There is a clear relationship between technology, functionality, and name. I like the Amazon Assistant ecosystem. The technology is fantastic, and perhaps it is one step ahead from the other voice assistants. The weakest point is the marketing. There are many devices, and maybe too many. The differences are not always apparent; the names sometimes are confusing and always difficult to remember.
Let me explain it with a couple of examples.
Echo and Tap names
The brand Amazon Echo is for the speaker that only needs the voice. Amazon Tap is the device activated with a button. The separation makes sense. Even the name suggests the functionality and helps the user to make the distinction.
Be aware that they call it Amazon Tap and not Amazon Echo Tap. The word Echo is not in the name as the device is not always on. The distinction makes sense from a technical point of view. The problem is that it is confusing for the user.
The truth is that the Echo is the star of the line. It is different from other products because it is hands-free. That is the name that more people will remember. Amazon Tap is a variant of that.
The two devices are similar; they do the same things and have the same aspect. The button is the only relevant difference. They try to make the user remember two different names and this drives to confusion.
In September 2017, Amazon Tap is still on Amazon’s website, but it's no longer on the main pages. It's not on the comparing tables that Amazon provides. Amazon Tap is very similar to the other Echo devices, but it does not have the name Echo in their brand. It is a marketing problem.
Alexa, a virtual person, and a company
Alexa is the brain inside the speakers. It is the equivalent of Siri, Cortana, and Google Assistant. It is the keyword the user says to ask a question. It is a brand for the end Consumer: B2C.
But Alexa is also a company that gives web traffic and analytics: alexa.com. It is a Business for other Business: B2B. The two things have a relationship. From a business point of view, perhaps it makes sense. For the user, it is confusing.
In a certain way, after a while, it seems that Echo has a life. Whatever is inside that device, it has personality. That does not fit with a company that makes "marketing tools [that] help you engineer growth." (as they say on alexa.com).
Many fantastic products, confusing brands
They have many products: Echo, Echo Plus, Echo Dot, Echo Spot, Amazon Tap, Echo Look, Echo Show, and Alexa. Each one has a name that helps to define the main characteristic. At the same time, it is hard to identify each device.
Not even the experts remember all the names and have a clear idea of the differences. For instance, very few people remember the name Echo Show. Many say something like: that Echo that has a screen.
Marketing, design, appeal
Like many other Amazon products, the Echo family is functional, efficient, and inexpensive. At the same time, they are not especially attractive; they are just correct. It seems to call the mind, never the heart.
That positioning makes sense when the target is to sell things that other brands make. But now Amazon is making their products, so the game will be different.
The Echo is probably the best voice assistant. In September 2017, it has undergone an important improvement. Amazon better organized the names, the brands, and the functionalities.
They reinforced the brand Echo, and they gave a sub-brand for each device. They still have the Amazon Tap as a strange element in the brand umbrella, but now it has less importance in the ecosystem. With that new organization, the global brand Echo could stay for the long run. The different devices will be able to change as time goes by and technology evolves.
On the other side, Echo has many products, too many options with just small differences. The names and the characteristics are confusing for the regular user.
Amazon Echo technology is fantastic. It's one of the brands that I admire most. However, marketing and brand creation are still their weakest points.
This post is part of a series dedicated to Voice Assistants. You can also call them Virtual Personal Assistants. You can read each part independently:
I have talked about Amazon and the distribution marketing in other posts: