As Amazon reported a 29 percent increase in net sales and $2.9 billion in profits for the third quarter of 2018, it also announced a growing number of connected consumer devices, starting off with new variants of its flagship Echo and Echo Dot devices powered by its virtual voice assistant, Alexa.
During the quarter, the Seattle-based firm said Alexa-compatible smart home devices has “quintupled year to date to more than 20,000 devices from over 3,500 brands.”
Amazon’s virtual assistant Alexa, first used in the Echo and the Echo Dot smart speakers in 2014, has been integrated into thousands of non-Amazon products ever since the company opened Alexa to developers for them to build Alexa skills in 2016.
But even in Amazon’s own backyard, there is a growing number of connected devices powered by Alexa, including the new Echo Auto, for the car that connects Alexa using a smartphone; the Echo Wall Clock, an Echo companion to see timers and reminders at a glance; and the Echo Plus and Echo Show premium speakers.
The third quarter of 2018 has likewise seen the launch of other consumer IoT devices with Alexa voice integrations, such as the streaming media stick Fire TV Stick 4K, the DVR Fire TV Recast, the Kindle Paperwhite, and new variants Fire HD tablets.
Moving on to the fourth quarter, Amazon is expected to ship the AmazonBasics Microwave in November and it is expected to make a splash as Alexa starts microwaving the popcorn at the user’s voice command.
It’s not just the popcorn. The connected oven can also defrost peas, cook potatoes, make coffee or reheat the rice as it comes with quick-cook voice presets. It's bigger value probably in a retail behemoth like Amazon is that it can reorder popcorn just in case the user run low on supplies.
But in an interview with CNBC at the sidelines of IFA Berlin 2018, Daniel Rausch, VP of Smart Home at Amazon, said it's still the early days of voice shopping through these connected appliances.
“The primary use of voice shopping today is to reorder — the convenience of saying, "Alexa, order me some paper towels," he said.
With Amazon's first connected kitchen appliance out in the market, many are seeing more connected digital appliances to come for the smart home, not just from Amazon.
This early, Amazon, however, said that it has no plans to add paid advertising to Alexa.
“I think we clearly had a lot of exciting things happen in the last month or two in terms of new announcements in devices out there,"said Amazon.com’s Dave Fildes in answer to a question in the Q&A portion of the Amazon 3Q 2018's earnings call. "The goal is to make customers' lives easier and make it more convenient [...] We're bringing a lot of cool hardware options to customers.”