Amazon has an ecosystem of devices and technologies designed to give information. The user can activate it only by voice.
The technology is fantastic. They are making significant improvements with voice recognition. They introduce new devices to satisfy specific segments of the population.
On the other side, there are many products with small differences. A lot of names, constant changes in the line of products. All that makes the whole Echo ecosystem really confusing.
Great technology. The marketing, not so much.
Echo, Echo Plus, Echo Dot, Echo Show, Echo Spot, Echo Auto, 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.
- Echo Plus. It's similar to the Echo, but it has improved sound quality and it includes a smart home hub. This means that it can control things like smart lights, locks, plughs, sensors.
- 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.
- Echo Show. It has a 10.1 inches screen. It can show security cameras and YouTube videos, as well as make video phone calls.
- Echo Spot. It includes a 2.5" screen at an affordable price.
- Echo Auto. For the car
- 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.
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, 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. They have the central brand Echo and many other sub-brands under the umbrella. The changes are constant. They introduce many new products and kill fast the ones that do not work. This is a good way to test the consumer preferences.
At the same time it makes all the ecosystem quite confusing. 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: