Posts Tagged ‘Amazon’

Alexa is Amazing

Wednesday, January 31st, 2018

I got my Alexa device as soon as they made it available in India. I played around with it as a user initially, but soon the technology kid in me took over and started developing skills.

A few things I learnt, which I did not know before about Alexa are:

  1. There is a history of all the commands we give Alexa. Wait, this is not the usual history with text, it also stores the exact audio recording of the voice command given to Alexa. This is scary – when you realise that they have proof of every interaction you ever had with Alexa 🙂
  2. I can now listen to my books on Kindle using Alexa. Earlier I used to buy books on Audible for more than 15USD. Now, it is less than 5USD, delivered to my phone, plus read to me by Alexa 😉
  3. There is a whole new world of Visual User Interface / Visual User Experience (VUI/VUX) which has to mature as it has been least explored so far.
  4. They have separated the skills by region. This means, when I build a skill for India, it will not be available for consumption in US or Europe. I am not sure if this is a good move, but it is an interesting move. I guess it will keep content geography centric and provider more accurate results.

A few topics where I am still pondering over the long term business strategy are:

  1. Without the ability to have the same Alexa voice skills in my phone, I am limited to using Alexa in the house (may be, like some of my friends, I should also get a Alexa Dot for every room.)
  2. Without the ability to communicate using a picture or a video, I am limited to voice based interactions only. May be the future versions of Alexa will come with a camera (or better if Alexa phone is launched!!)

I am comparing Alexa with Hey Siri and OK Google (and to certain extent Watson too) to see how they will compete in the long run.

Will publish some skills on Alexa, that I hope will be useful for everyone.

Meanwhile, I am still thinking of making life easy for any one to extend their existing conventional services (such as websites) to be extended to work with these voice enabled systems.

Due to this level of fascination I have with these products, hence the title – Alexa is amazing – because it simply is.

Technology Firms Disrupting Their Models?

Thursday, November 16th, 2017

In the past I used to always compare the business model used by the technology companies of yesteryears ie. before 1990 (IBM, HP, Intel, Microsoft, Oracle etc) with those of the new entrants ie. after 1990 (Google, Amazon, Apple, Ebay, Yahoo etc) and notice these key differences:

  • Asset lite: The investments made were purely in technology
  • Ad lite: Very rarely we used to see sales people from these organisations advertising their products

Now I am beginning to compare these firms with the big ones that have emerged after 2000 (Google, Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Uber etc)

The following incidents are very interesting to note:

  • Amazon bought the Whole Foods chain in the US. This concept of buying brick and mortar businesses to compliment the online business is a big deviation from their past strategy (though they have tried opening a few bookstores in the past.)
  • Uber has placed an order for 24,000 driverless cars from Volvo. This deviates from their previous statements that Uber does not own any car but just the technology behind the platform.

This makes me ponder about why the technology companies are disrupting themselves.

Amazon might have to do this – as now they are competing directly with Walmart. Walmart is on an acquisition spree (they bought and have one more chance to conquer the ecommerce space. Meanwhile, another side benefit for Amazon could be the Amazon Locker. Each outlet of Whole Foods will now become home to Amazon Locker.

Amazon Fire Stick Is Data Hungry

Tuesday, October 10th, 2017

Amazon Fire TV Stick is one of the IOT (Internet of Things) enabled devices that have become quite popular in the recent times. I consider it a classic example of disruption using technology.

Got a chance to order an Amazon Fire TV Stick on Amazon and was pleasantly surprised to receive it ahead of time.

The installation of Amazon Fire TV Stick was quite smooth but the most interesting revelation came after the setup was completed.

Just to give a context, my typical video usage consumption before receiving the Amazon Fire TV Stick was from the following mediums:
– Netflix
– Amazon prime
– Cable tv
– Apple Tv
– TED talk videos
– YouTube videos
– WhatsApp videos
– Facebook videos
– LinkedIn videos

Amazon Fire TV Stick allows you to access almost all of these and many more.

Earlier I used to watch YouTube videos on the internet and that behaviour was known only to Google.  Now when I watch a YouTube video via the Amazon Fire TV Stick, Amazon also knows my usage behaviour and the power of that will enable it to provide much more targeted information to match my taste.

The same applies to the Netflix programmes we watch at home. Amazon Fire TV stick has the data and it is just a matter of hours before which they will know exactly the age and tastes of each person in my household.

I doubt if I will need Apple TV at all as Amazon Fire TV Stick provides everything that comes in Apple TV.

Cable TV is also out of the window as Hotstar takes care of the live telecasts and my favorite programs such as Game of Thrones.

WhatsApp, Facebook and Linked in are the few  mediums not impacted by the Amazon Fire TV Stick coming into my life. Not sure how long that will last.

This kind of disruption is what is happening because of such IOT enabled devices like the Amazon Fire TV Stick. If you are planning to disrupt any market, it would be a good exercise to study the way Amazon Fire TV Stick has been implemented.

Amazon Locker – An Interesting Initiative

Sunday, March 22nd, 2015

Amazon has been experimenting a new concept called Amazon Locker, where you could choose an Amazon Locker near you as the delivery address, and go and pick up the items from there.

Amazon Locker


This attempt clearly shows how Amazon is trying to focus on improving the experience at each touch point involved in the eCommerce buying process.

As expected, Amazon has tied up with a few stores in the US, and have also expanded the service to other countries such as the UK.

Amazon Locker

While it will be interesting to see how this evolves over a period of time, if you think of the possibilities of the variations in India, they are endless. Some of them are:

  • An ecommerce giant tying up with India Post, Railways, petrol bunks, retail stores, village level entrepreneurs etc
  • A distribution company setting up their own brand outlets similar to Amazon Locker

It will be interesting to watch this space over a period of time.


Audible – Remarkable

Friday, May 2nd, 2014

Spent some time earlier this week on understanding ‘Audible’ book types, the recent innovation from Amazon, which allows users to download books using ‘Audible’ book type and it plays on Android/iPhone devices.


As they also gave two books for free to be downloaded with new sign ups, I took this opportunity to download and listened to ‘One Simple Idea’ by Stephen Key and ‘Linchpin’ by Seth Godin.

Initially it looked like any other app, but as I started using Audible, I fell in love with it. Here are some reasons why: