052 - Brian Roemmele - Amazon’s Hardware Announcements: Keys to the Castle - Pt. 1
Play • 34 min

Guest: Brian Roemmele, "The Oracle of Voice"

Echo Buds, Echo Frames, Echo Loop, and more brand new products announced last week will take Alexa to new fields: what does this mean? Brian Roemmele is known as the Oracle of Voice for a reason. Over decades he has predicted so many things that came true. The brilliance of these new products like Echo Loop is about getting Amazon into the castle without fighting for spaces that are already occupied, like the wrist or the pocket.

A big theme of this episode is getting out of the weeds of the technical features like the carburetor or the exact RAM, and instead looking at better ways to get work done. Bigger picture. We are looking at the beginnings of new use cases in brand new paradigms. When you paradigm shift, the canvas is blank, and that’s where we are with voice.

This is Part 1 - tune back in next week to hear more! Subscribe free in your favorite podcast app so you don’t miss it: bit.ly/playbeetle

Read more: Amazon Devices Event, September 2019

Timestamps and topics:

Timestamps and topics:

04:00 Amazon’s patents telegraph the future

04:50 Amazon did not dominate in smartphone, obviously (Fire Phone failed - and at the time in 2014, people overlooked the first generation Amazon Echo)

05:50 Smartphone is an old modality

06:10 iPhone is the iconic smartphone

06:30 What is the strategy to get into the castle? Content and shopping, largest merchant on planet

07:10 Amazon is a retailer not a technology company - this is why Amazon created the voice first experience first

Amazon does not pretend ot be a tech company, they’re a company that produces technology

07:50 They don’t have mindshare yet, and that is key

07:55 What happens with content and mindshare? How does content creation play in?

08:30 Amazon is not going after the smartphone or smart watch (not after the wrist or the pocket

09:10 Products that define new categories must be loved and hated

09:30 “Talk to the hand” back in vernacular with Echo Loop

10:30 Tech companies don’t consider anthropological and sociological impact of products

11:10 We ask“can we?” too often and don’t ask “Should we?” enough

11:45 Brian’s thesis: Hyper Local

11:55 Echo Loop (a ring) is not always on, it has a button. It draws you into the Alexa ecosystem without taking away from Apple AirPods - and that is brilliant

13:20 Future of the voice assistant that you talk to like a significant other

13:30 Done thumb clawing at screen - that is the future

13:50 Echo Frames and Echo Loop are early versions of the ubiquitous voice future

14:20 Near field computing, mid-field, and far-field (open room) - Amazon’s secret weapon over the castle wall was to get in the home (with Echo in 2014) - which became the fastest adopted consumer technology in history

15:10 The tech leap happened organically with consumers from kitchen to living room - Amazon is doing the same strategy again to get people to adopt this in the near field

15:50 People mocked the iPad (menstrual pad?) and look what happened - these products have to be hated or mocked

16:30 iPhone was laughed at because it didn’t have a keyboard. What is past is prologue. We always see the future through the glasses of right nowand the past - always view the future through the rearview mirror: 16:40 We defined the new in the words of the old, e.g.: the horseless carriage, flameless candle, talking pictures.

17:50 Most voice first experts have nothing to do with the technology world, which irritates folks in tech

18:45 Computing is not what it was for the last sixty years, and it will not continue to be what is has been the last twenty - think about this for typing and interacting

18:55 Technology gets bigger and bigger until it disappears (e.g. you don’t talk about your carburetor, you just buy a car that works or Jobs saying RAM doesn’t matter, you will only care what the computer does or accomplishes)

21:35 There are no killer applications for voice. “Apps?” That’s 2D.

21:55 So what are people really looking for with voice?

22:30 "The idea of the app is already gone.”- Brian

23:40 The intimate relationship that technology can and will spawn is the killer app. We can’t see that world clearly yet

24:50 We’re not battling on the grounds defined by prior technologies

25:10 We’ve only seen 4 of the 175 modalities that voice first works in

25:50 Amazon’s brilliance is great utility to an existing ecosystem (Alexa)

25:00 Amazon doesn’t expect Echo Buds to replace Apple AirPods

27:20 Echo Buds isolate noise and incorporate multiple VAs like Google and Siri

27:30 AirPods are a cultural phenomenon about fashion as much as sound- that is why they won’t be easily replaced by Echo Buds

28:05 Brand signaling with AirPods, or whatever product comes next- that is human

28:30 Loop and Frames are wise moves

29:10 AOL move to open AOL Mail to internet mail is similar to Buds move to open to other VAs

29:40 Amazon subsidies for Buds and Amazon Music. Music is a commodity - supplier does not matter.

30:10 When you stream music, that streaming service makes almost nothing (e.g. Apple, Google, Spotify) - loss leader. The strategy is about attention, narrative, communication with the customer.

30:50 See: Prime. Brilliant. Long term relationship.

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