Alexa is not the next OS

TL:DR : Voice based interfaces will be as wide spread as pen based interfaces.

Amazon Echo is an amazing product, but its not the next OS as proclaimed by Stratechery.

Few simple reasons:

  • Accent: Do you have an accent? Do you have Italian accent? The world is full of accents. Ask anyone who is ‘Joe’ or ‘Sam’ or ‘Jen’, because baristas have problem understanding their original name. Even humans struggle with it, Alexa struggles even more. No amount of voice training fixes it.
  • Context: Alexa is good for certain tasks, but it misses 80% of other tasks. Its far easier to type “is 0.5 greater or lesser than 0.500” than ask Alexa. ( Try it ). Machine Learning is awesome, but it will be few more decades before it understands human context.
  • Work environment: In a work context, imagine employees shouting into their computer. Well, its far easier to enter a PO on a keyboard than shout it to Alexa.

Amazon Echo will spawn a market of interesting toys for home, kids etc, but no it won’t be next Operating System that we all interact with in future. Neither is it going to be a multi billion dollar market.

Its easy to get excited about a device that actually listens to you and often answers you (unlike humans), but it still won’t be a replacement for typing.

I still think Amazon Echo is a very good product and it is an useful product, but voice based computing does not have that much of a bright future.

Thats all folks. Thoughts?

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