It’s that mostly unseen agenda of information that is responsible for Amazon’s success with the Echo devices featuring a Siri-like voice in Alexa. Success? Yes. Sell a few million devices for an average of barely $100 and it’s called a success. But, if you’re Apple you can sell tens of millions of something new and it’s called a flop. What gives?
The major technology giants we follow on Mac360 are the obvious ones. Apple. Microsoft. Google. Occasionally Samsung, and sometimes Amazon; just to mention a few. Each of those competitors has their own Siri-like competitor; an artificially intelligent personal assistant, albeit in voice only. For now.
Each one of them has strengths and obvious weaknesses, but to hear the technologist apologists explain it, Amazon has the lead with Alexa in a few million devices. Why? Alexa listens all the time. Alexa answers questions. Alexa lets you buy stuff. To be fair, Amazon is building something of an eco system around the Echo and Alexa so functionality has begun to improve and more is due to come.
Meanwhile, I can’t tell you what goes on elsewhere, other than to point out– again– each talking AI assistant has their own set of parlor tricks to distinguish from one another in a positive way, but in reality, they’re all stupid as hell. That should say more about the immediate future of artificial intelligence, no?
Alright, what does Siri do better than Amazon’s Echo and Alexa? Siri fits in my pocket. Siri can make phone calls, launch apps on my iPhone, iPad, and Mac. Siri does not require a Wi-Fi connection so isn’t tethered to a device that goes nowhere. And, unlike the few million Echo units that Amazon doesn’t claim to have sold (Amazon doesn’t use numbers, it seems), Apple’s Siri works on over a billion devices, and while Amazon households may have an Echo or two, I’m willing to bet that– thanks to a billion Apple devices in the wild– that Siri shows up in more places. Many, many, more places.
Any other advantages? A few, but each with a caveat. All these devices and their attempts at artificial intelligent personal assistants are in their infancy. As in infants. Babies.
Siri can be male or female. It’s the only one of these cute AI personas that can change gender and even comes with a few accents. I like the British female on my iPhone but the male on my Mac. Don’t infer anything there. News on the streets says Amazon’s Echo might beget a new model which can make phone calls. Siri on my iPhone has done that for years. It’s one of the few things Siri does well.
For all this crazy talk about Amazon Echo and Google Home being the connected devices that will run your home, analysts seem to overlook that many of these homes have multiple Siri-equipped devices already; about a dozen in the Mincey Compound as of my unofficial count (Macs, iPhones, iPads, Watch et al). Yes, there’s a technology battle going on between Apple, Microsoft, Google, Amazon, maybe Samsung and a few others, but it’s like watching infants quarreling on the floor. Nobody scores any points, and seldom does one damage the other. Why? They’re infants. They’re stupid. Just like Echo, Cortana, Google-whatever-the-name-is-today, Siri and others. At least Siri does some things that are useful and goes with me wherever I go.