What does Alexa’s holiday win mean?
Was Alexa’s breakthrough success this holiday season largely a victory for Amazon? Or was it a broader win for smart home devices?
Alexa devices — including Echo Dot Fire TV Stick, Fire tablet and Amazon Echo — topped Amazon’s holiday best-seller list with “millions” sold, according to Amazon’s 2016 holiday wrap-up released Tuesday. The report confirmed the expectation for strong holiday sales. The device sold out for Christmas delivery by December 19.
The top seller across categories was the smaller Echo Dot, which was launched earlier this year and offered over the holidays for $39.99, a 20 percent discount. Equally impressive were strong sales for Amazon Echo, which costs $179.99. Launched in 2014, Echo was estimated to have sold more than 5 million units before the holiday.
Besides the sales gains, Alexa continued to add more “skills” or tasks that furthered its lead over digital assistants such as Google Home. Said Jeff Wilke, CEO Worldwide Consumer, Amazon, in a statement, “From turning on Christmas lights and playing holiday music to shopping for gifts and asking for help with cookie recipes, Alexa continues to get smarter every day.”
At the same time, however, Alexa appears to have led the charge to introduce artificial intelligence into homes and raise awareness about connected devices.
Writing for Fast Company, Jared Newman suspects that in 2017 virtual assistants will start appearing in alarm clocks, lamps, TVs and possibly fridges, “letting you search Google or order items on Amazon from anywhere in the house.”
Mr. Newman said that while refrigerators aren’t yet able to reorder groceries, such technology is advancing and Amazon’s simple one-click Dash buttons already underscore the potential of connected shopping. He wrote, “The only question is whether Amazon will remain unchallenged, or other retailers will catch on.”
- Alexa Devices Top Amazon Best-Seller List this Holiday – Millions of Alexa Devices Sold Worldwide – Amazon
- Amazon’s Echo Sells Out—Except in Stores – Wall Street Journal
- What Smart Homes Will—And Won’t—Do In 2017 – Fast Company
- Amazon’s Alexa answered a lot of questions on Thanksgiving that had nothing to do with food – Venture Beat
- Amazon’s hockey-puck-sized smart speaker was its top seller this holiday – Business Insider
- Will Alexa-exclusive deals bring holiday cheer to Amazon? – RetailWire
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you see Alexa’s holiday sales traction as a bigger win for Amazon or for the overall smart home opportunity? Do you see Alexa and other digital assistants greatly altering shopping habits in the year ahead?