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Alexa: I Bit the Bullet

echodotAfter having thought on it for awhile — I finally ordered an Echo Dot this week, and it arrived on my doorstep yesterday.

Why’d I bite the bullet, even though my gut is the only thing I’ll actually use Alexa for is to play music?

The Echo Dot is only $50, so it’s not a huge investment. Beyond that, as a product person — I want to understand the fuss about Alexa and have a good grasp on consumer behavior based on first hand experience, rather than relying on what my friends tell me.

For the strategic thinkers: It’s clear Amazon is trying to outmaneuver Apple’s Home platform (which I last wrote about in October) to be the operating system of millions of homes around the world; here’s a good read on Stratechery by Ben Thompson.

About Drew Meyers

Founder of Geek Estate Blog / Geek Estate Labs. Zillow Alum. Travel addict & co-founder of Horizon. Social entrepreneurship & microfinance advocate. Fan of Red Hot Chili Peppers and Kiva.

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  • We use it to play music which it does a great job, and also to add things to my to do list as I think of them.

    One thing that disappoints me is she is not so smart. Sometimes we would like to ask her a question instead of having to jump on Google to look something up. It seems she has no Google like search function or one that has problems as she normally does not understand our request, so we stopped asking.

    • I’ve yet to figure out how smart — or dumb — she is.

  • Nick.Trite

    Alexa (and a million other things in my life 😂) would be a lot better with more IFTTT options. Alexa actually plays pretty well with IFTTT in that there are a ton of options for her, especially the all important ability to set a trigger phrase, but if you do set a trigger phrase, there just aren’t a lot of options for what you can use a phrase to do. Basically there’s a ton of “if”s but not a ton of “then”s for her.

    • Gotcha.

      I’ll probably do another update in a few months once I’ve played with a number of integrations. I just enabled skyscanner and kayak today (though I’m at work now so haven’t tried to actually use them yet).

  • Lani Rosales

    Any thoughts on the Google Home? We have a few in the office and house and it’s been a pretty cool little AI assistant (plus, the speaker for music is effing amazing)…

    • I haven’t tried Google Home. I want to try it though — I’m certain it’s much smarter at answering random questions than Alexa given Google’s data strength in that area.

      • Lani Rosales

        I’ve been pleasantly surprised – I assumed it was basically my smartwatch with a speaker, but no, the context of how it delivers information is dramatically different than what I expected.

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