Sitting in the shadows for 22 years, Amazon has finally taken its first steps into the Super Bowl marketing madness. Underlining this move is the company’s voice-controlled device Echo. The wireless gadget features speakers and a microphone, and it has its own digital assistant, “Alexa,” to provide users with auditory information. It reads your feed from Twitter out loud for example. But the company has only hit an enthusiast market so far. It looks like it’s now ready to remedy the situation and aim for a mainstream audience.
Echo launched last June, and was marketed as a daily assistant with a given place in every home. Indeed, it wasn’t carried around like the other digital voice assistants you keep in your pocket. Amazon believes that your portable voice controlled assistant is not as capable as it should be. The Echo, for example, is always listening, which provides some opportunities for interaction you can’t always have with your phone. To always be able to simply ask Alexa for help isn’t something the average consumer can expect out of their phones; not without unlocking them via fingerprints or PIN codes first.
But reaching out to a mainstream audience isn’t easy, and it isn’t cheap. A 30 second video advertisement during Super Bowl 50 will cost as much as $5 million. Considering its sheer size and capital, those sums aren’t too much for Amazon to handle. In fact, it’s most likely an easier decision to make than some might think, especially for the sake of a technology that the company has already invested so much in. The company introduced “The Alexa Fund” last year, offering a total of $100 million divided amongst various developers. Slowing down isn’t something on its mind, and three days ago the company announced that Spotify Premium members would be able to use the music streaming service by talking to Alexa.
David Mitchell Smith of IT research analyst firm Gartner, said that the cost and lack of understanding could be something that’s keeping people from investing in the device. “It’s a tough sell to get people to shell out $179 for a piece of hardware that they can only see does the same thing as Siri,”
But while Amazon hasn’t revealed any numbers on the success of the device vice president of Amazon Devices, Neil Lindsay, said the company is “thrilled with how the product’s been received.” He continues, “We’re showing Echo in this Super Bowl campaign because we think being able to control your lights, order a pizza, or listen to music with only your voice is magical, and we wanted to show that in action,” he said.
The company might also hope that this helps sell the rumored smaller, cheaper version of the device said to be launching soon. Combined with the improving reviews the device has been getting as it gets continually updated the company might have an opportunity to reach beyond the niche audience the device has found so far.