Great article Chris. I’m excited about the changes happening in this space.
Google’s approach with ChromeCast was to democratise technology that enable a consumer shift. By keeping things “cheap but not shitty” the user feels in more control of the value transaction and is willing to dip a toe, even if at first the new technology seems like an indulgence rather than a necessity. Heck, they’ll even advocate for your product with their friends and family. Merely buying your product makes them feel smart and if a product does one thing well, a shift to new patterns of use happens willingly.
I think Amazon missed the mark a little with the original Echo. I was definitely desirable in terms of functionality but it looked too polished and prized for an impulse purchase — a monolith of tech to worship rather than a commodity item you’re likely to pick up a few of (like the ChromeCast). They corrected things with the Echo Dot, and the multiple purchase discounts offered weren’t just about shifting more units, they promoted the concept of the product’s ubiquity in the home.
By looking utilitarian, and a bit “plasticy”, the Echo Show is immediately more approachable. Less slick gadget, more appliance-like providing affordances not of how it is to be used, but how the consumer should relate to it and site it in their home. Put it next to the food mixer and wipe it down when you clean up, put another next to a messy bed, it doesn’t matter — it’s at home in YOUR home. The Echo Show doesn’t need a sterile, Apple, altar-like setting to work aesthetically.
I don’t care if it’s an Amazon Kindle Fire Tablet wedged in a box with speakers. In terms of marketing and product design values, even Apple could learn a lot here. Just as Google Cardboard “mocks” expensive VR gear in both sense of the word, the Echo Show marketing is the antithesis to Apples design/fashion-led narrative.
It’s not cool, it’s not sexy, it won’t try to copulate with my ears but Echo Show might just persuade me to part with some cash in the near future.