Alexa can show you the world – shining, shimmering and for sale on Amazon.
The Amazon Echo Show is the latest addition to the online retail behemoth’s line of home artificial intelligence-assisted devices. Last we heard from Amazon and Alexa, they/she were gearing up to give you fashion advice, but in the meantime, the video capabilities on the Echo Show will offer a more familiar function.
Essentially, the Echo Show is very straightforward. Anything you could previously ask Alexa, she can now answer with video too. Meaning instead of just “Alexa, play ‘I’m the One’ by DJ Khaled,” you can now ask Alexa to show you the music video on YouTube, so that you may enjoy Khaled, Quavo, Lil Wayne and Chance the Rapper in all their NSFW glory. Similarly, instead of “Alexa, call Mom for Mother’s Day,” you can ask Alexa to video call Mom for Mother’s Day.
(Reminder: Call your mom this Sunday – it’s Mother’s Day.)
On the Echo Show, Alexa can also show you photos, shopping lists, security camera feeds (!) and so on. Yet, the video call capabilities seem to be the most exciting for those in the industry, as it indicates Amazon is bulking up their “services” sector. (In what is definitely not a coincident, so too is Apple.)
Because nothing is pure and good in Silicon Valley, or 900 miles due north of Silicon Valley, it took almost no time for accusations of shady shenanigans to come up. Last year, Amazon invested $5.6 million into the startup Nucleus. Nucleus was and is more or less the same thing as the Echo Show: “an Alexa-powered tablet computer designed to be a dead-simple home intercom system and video conferencing tool.” Not one to waste his moment, Nucleus’ CEO and founder highlighted just what is up with the new focus on communication in an interview with Recode:
Their thesis is what our thesis was: Communication is that Trojan horse to get those devices throughout the home and throughout the extended family’s home. The difference is they want to sell more detergent; we actually want to help families communicate easier.
Whether Nucleus really wanted to “help families” or not, the events as they stand do not look great for Amazon. Sure, they are absolutely well within their rights, but the behavior could jeopardize other partners’ willingness to accept funding from the Alexa Fund. (It probably won’t.)
In any case, you can pre-order the Echo Show, which will ship in late June, on Amazon for $230 or two for $360.