Amazon's Alexa strategy hinges on everyday items — even toilets
- Amazon is integrating the Alexa virtual assistant into more non-Amazon devices, including desktop and laptop computers from several manufacturers, a line of Kohler products and new car models, according to The Verge and other publications covering the announcements coming out of the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week.
- In addition to being integrated with Windows 10 PCs from HP, Lenovo, Asus and Acer; Alexa also will power two Kohler toilets, a new bathroom mirror and other products from the new Kohler Konnect line, according to TechCrunch.
- Meanwhile, Toyota and Amazon announced at CES that Alexa will be integrated into some makes of Toyota and Lexus automobiles, allowing car owners to use the virtual assistant to auto-lock and remotely start their vehicles, among other functions, according to CNET.
When Vuzix last week announced that its Alexa-enabled augmented reality smart glasses would debut at CES, you had to know it was just the beginning of the Alexa avalanche coming in 2018. And so here we are, with more news of Amazon and partners integrating Alexa into every product that might come to mind — glasses, cars, mirrors, microwave ovens, mobile accessories, computers and many others. Soon it will be a whole lot harder to think of a type of product that hasn’t in some way merged with Alexa.
The addition of Alexa to different makes of Windows 10-based computers is particularly interesting in that Amazon and Microsoft were already working together to allow Alexa and Microsoft’s Cortana assistant technology work together, with a specific focus on Windows 10 device. This latest move by Amazon seems more like an attempt to challenge Cortana, rather than work with it, unless it proves to be the first chapter in showing how Alexa and Cortana will be mutual supportive.
Of course, people won't be talking about the condition of relations between Alexa and Cortana nearly as much as they will be talking about voice-activated toilets. C'mon, you knew it was coming eventually. You can't put Alexa into everything else, and not put it into toilets, and that's what Kohler has designs on — not just one, but two connected toilets (and a connected bathtub, shower, mirror and sink, but who cares about that stuff? Toilets!)
If it seems like Amazon is putting Alexa into absolutely everything, the e-commerce giant may feel like it has to in order to remain the clear No. 1 in the virtual assistant market. While Alexa integration could be found all over the CES show floor, Google Assistant made a big CES splash, too. Google's efforts with its partners include planned smart display products that seem poised to compete directly with the Echo Show, but more broadly, these two commerce giants are in a race to voice-activate as many different types of products as they can, realizing that the day may not necessarily be won by the company that sells the most products online or serves as the window to most of the internet, but by the one whose core technology gets into a position to control most of our everyday lives.