Thanks, Chris. Good stuff.
I immediately thought of Kindle and how offering not only a physical device but an app extends Kindle’s reach. I can use Kindle on my iPad. Works great. Will there be an Echo/Alexa app that can work on any hardware (up to the task)? That approach seems much easier than requiring everyone to upgrade their hardware (leading to yet another avalanche of discarded junk seeping into the groundwater in China).
On the audio replacing visual thing — I don’t know. We are visual creatures. In one second of scanning a dense 2560 x 1440 screen of products, authors, prices, financial events, dates, images etc. I can take in and process an amount of information that cannot be effectively transmitted by audio — ever. Visual is the T3. Audio is a 486. We’re good at scanning and pattern matching. That happens visually.
Now it’s true that audio is vastly superior for certain things — such as hearing a human voice. Hearing an author read her own article or book delivers nuances of emphasis and social grain and detail that cannot be replicated in text only. When you hear someone deliver information in their own voice, you gain another 20% in value vs. just reading it. But if we can’t hear it in their own voice, at least I would hope Alexa can do things like “Read me the latest article by David Frum.” Now that would be helpful and support multi tasking. Not if it only works in a stationary location though. I may want to start listening inside and then head out to the door to catch a bus.
I definitely see the promise of the SYSTEM of Alexa. The hardware instance of Echo Show? Not so much. Would be much easier if the system could be delivered through whatever hardware I already have — a la Kindle. We’re going to continue carrying our iPhones next to our heart (literally and figuratively) from home to work to the top of Mt. Everest. I doubt anyone is going to carry around an Echo show. Or install nine versions of it throughout all their physical spaces.