AI Product Review: Amazon Echo “Alexa” (2nd Generation)

This is the 2nd generation version of Amazon Echo, an Artificial Intelligence device for the home, which responds by the name “Alexa”. Amazon Echo leverages the Bing search engine to lookup interesting facts. Amazon echo connects to a plethora of applications including: Amazon Prime, Amazon Music, Pandora, Sirus Radio, NPR News, Spotify, Satellite Dish, and Uber.

Amazon Echo’s features are performed via voice commands. Here is a list some its features:

  • Ask about the Weather
  • Get updated on News events
  • Play Music
  • Make Phone Calls
  • Schedule Calendar Appointments
  • Set Reminders
  • Create Shopping Lists
  • Order items on Amazon.com
  • Order Pizza
  • Reserve an Uber
  • Turn on/off lights (with compatible wall plug ins, switches, and/or bulbs)
  • Control thermostat (with compatible thermostat box)
  • and more…

Pros:

  • Voice Activated Assistant: These same tasks require time and user entry via a computer or a smart phone.
  • New features and apps are added all the time including: current movie showtimes, available Yelp reviews, and audio reading of Kindle books.

Cons:

Amazon Echo still appears to have a lot of kinks to work out:

Check this out! Alexa lost her Voice!

Click the picture below to review the 8 common Amazon Echo problems.

8 common Amazon Echo problems – and how to fix them quickly

Privacy:

There has been a lot of concern about Amazon Echo listening to what you say. There is an option to hear all of the voice recordings and delete them.

Click the picture below to find out how to delete the Amazon echo recordings.

How to hear all your Amazon Echo recordings (and delete them too!)

Product Review:

 

I give Amazon Echo’s 2nd Generation “Alexa” 4 out of 5 stars. It has some cool features and connections to apps, which make common tasks much simpler and fun to execute through voice commands. Amazon still has a way to go with “Alexa” in improving the software bugs and connectivity issues as well as providing easier security controls for data privacy. Maybe the next generation of Amazon Echo will have these issues worked out. For now, there are work arounds to address these issues. Click on the links, under the cons and privacy sections, to review how.

Distribution Channels:

For Amazon enthusiasts, below are a few of the locations where you can shop and buy an Amazon Echo:

Does Google know your last purchase?

Google knows all your past purchases. Most of our accounts (banks or utilities) are tied to our email addresses. Our email addresses are tied to our friends and family’ addresses. Google has everything it needs to predict and advertise your next product using your social network, your likes and your previous purchases. I would say Google is pretty good at providing you with your potential needs or wants for most items. I associate it to brainwashing.

Lately, I have been getting a lot of shoes Ads from Amazon. I’m not a shoes person and definitely not looking for them on the internet with Amazon. I prefer the in person experience at a shoes store. After the first exposure, I tried to ignore these ads; however, after the 3rd time, I decided to click on this “Amazing deals you don’t want to miss” and “Deals end on Sunday”. I eventually gave in and made a sample purchase to test out the process.

Google use the right marketing strategies to ensure they get new customers. Their marketing strategies are effective at least to peak their consumers’ interests.

My coworker shared Google advertised to him personal private jet. I can probably guess he made some high dollar purchases or that someone from this network purchased a private jet!

I notice Google hasn’t suggested me a house. Maybe they haven’t figured out the right house because of the complexity of other factors or that real estate companies haven’t paid for the data. Until then, our generation will have a lot of stuff but not a lot of land.

Books on a Screen?

I’ve always loved books. As a child, I read a dozen books each week. I read outside, inside, in the car, in the dim light of evening and well into the night. I was an English major in college, which exposed me to a whole different world of literature. I love memoirs and post modernist fiction, cookbooks and newspaper comic collections, and have favorites from every genre. I talk about reading a lot, so naturally, I am frequently posed with the question “how do you feel about ebooks?”

I am not a voice in the chorus of “save our hardcovers!”  I also, however, love having a shelf full of tangible books that I can gloat over, lend out, and dust. Just kidding, I never dust. I recognize the visceral experience that a paper book gives. I have many a fond memory that revolves around thumbing the pages and slamming the cover shut at the end of a gripping tale. It has been interesting, as an adult in this era, to watch the transformation of the printed word. There is something to be said for defending our precious, strained eyes from yet another screen. A book will never run out of battery. If you leave it in a train station, you don’t have to remotely delete your personal data. You cannot press flowers between your favorite stories on your e-reader.

However, I’ll shout it from the rooftops. I love my Kindle. http://cdn.makeuseof.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/eBook-Intro-Logo.jpg?b34c28

The grown up child-me, whose carry-on luggage was just a backpack full of books, loves the ability to carry hundreds of volumes at any given time in my purse. I like the instantaneousness of my electronic books. The joy of acquisition is amplified by the idea that I’ll be able to read that book whenever and wherever the fancy strikes me. While I don’t get to go fight the lines in the excited crowd for a midnight release, which was a great part of the excitement for new Harry Potter books in my youth, I am still very excited that I will have Harry Potter and the Cursed Child delivered to my e-reader immediately on July 31st.

The dawn of the e-book brought about a wave of fear from bibliophiles everywhere. However, the data seems to say we have nothing to fear. While there has been backlash of the digital age (RIP Borders and B. Dalton), it seems that we are in a happy middle point. Phillip Jones of The Guardian said it beautifully in his post on the relationship between e-books and printed books “[readers] have proved to more promiscuous and more flexible in what and how they read than anyone predicted.”

What are you reading?

If you want to read more Ruckus MBA blog posts, you can find them here!

Amazon: Signaling You to Buy No Matter What the Price

imgresFor over twenty years Amazon has been losing money on every transaction but winning in volume.  The now $100 billion E-commerce giant has eliminated the list price.  For individuals not familiar with the marketing and the signaling theory let me explain.  Amazon signals to the consumer that the item is on sale because the list price is depicted as what the item should sell for in an ideal market.

READ: Amazon Is Quietly Eliminating List Prices

Let’s say you need to get a new Iphone 6 case.  After a couple minutes
searching on line you spot a Crushed Damson Purple / Pink Otterbox Defender Series 6 case with a list price of $47.76 using Amazon Prime but wait, hold on,  just for you …it is now selling for $39.77.  You think to yourself hold on I need to logon to my Amazon Prime account right now and capture this deal before it goes away.  Deep breath you captured the deal and it will be on your doorstep in a day thanks to Amazon Prime.

So what happened, well your primordial brain sensed prey in the form of a deal, your adrenaline started pumping because you are on a proverbial hunt. This is when your rational brain kicked in asking the question “Hey is this a good deal?”  Now your primordial brain trying to appease the rational side of your mind says “ hey dummy chill out we just saved $7.99  from the list price. We got a killer deal!  High Fives all around!”

Now is as good a time to bore you with the details of the Signaling Theory.
In the context of marketing the seller has full knowledge of the total cost
of the item, the quality, the breadth of similar items and the market price
that consumers are willing to pay.  The consumer meanwhile has few resources to compare the item to and in most cases revert to user reviews that have been cultivated by the merchandiser. Information asymmetry occurs where one side as all the information and the other side has little to none.

Back to the iPhone case, Amazon has all the information of what it costs to
buy the purple Otterbox Defender 6 case from the manufacturer. Amazon has calculated the administrative, holding and shipping costs down to the penny. They have metrics to determine product quality and demand for this and all similar iPhone 6 cases, so they know what is hot and what is not down to the tenth of a percentage point (or more).

But what do you know, well, let’s see you can see the list price and the
quoted price on Amazon’s website. You know that users like the product and that you can get it in 24hours if you buy it now.  More importantly, you know that you got a fabulous deal,  a savings of $7.99 is real money.  But did you save money, well that is another question?  It is a relative
question with a nebulous answer.  Yes, you saved money from an artificially high list price, remember Amazon and OtterBox are in the business to make money.  But did you get a good deal? Well, this is where Signalling theory comes into play because Amazon has signaled that you are getting a great deal, and you have accepted the signal without question.

So why does Amazon want to change business as usual,  well to be honest
because we have now been so conditioned to buy almost everything from Amazon that they don’t need to signal that you are getting a good deal anymore? In fact,  Amazon has collected so many data points from you that they know what you buy when you buy it, the frequency that you need it, who you are sending it to, what colors you prefer and the urgency in which you need it.

Like Pavlov’s dog, they have you trained and can predict what shipments to direct to their local distribution centers even before you click send on
your order. Because they have taken all the guessing out of this process,
there can fix the price on the optimal value proposition for the consumer
and Amazon.  To some, this is a thing of beauty but to some, it is very
scary, almost Orwellian.  Rest assured big brother Amazon knows if you have been naughty or nice and will be shipping your Purple iPhone 6 case to you even before you … oh wait the delivery guys here with an Amazon box.   I wonder what it is?