I'm a huge fan of Amazon Echo. We have two at our house as a matter of fact - one main Echo in our kitchen and another Echo dot that sits on my night stand. I was a skeptic of it when it was first announced but have grown to like it over time.
Pricing it down
The initial Echo wasn't priced really low but that's changed of late. They initially went after the early adopter crowd (I ended up being one of them thanks to a Christmas present from the wife) and worked from there. The latest Prime day had Amazon basically giving away Echos of all kinds. They had to have been taking a loss on each Echo that was shipped that day.
This isn't the first time they've tried to price their way into market share. They tried it with Kindle Fire but were so late to the game that I think they were too far behind (and the Kindle Fire wasn't a great productivity tool) that they couldn't really own the tablet space.
The Echo is different. Echo was one of the first assistants like it (Siri aside...but she can't understand much of what you say anyway) out in the market with competitors eventually following suit with their own devices. I think getting their product out there first and then making it super affordable has likely helped it get an Echo into more homes.
At the end of the day, Amazon isn't in the business of selling hardware. They're using their hardware to gather data about their customers and ultimately sell more of their other services. The more Echos out in the wild (for Amazon, the better.
Making it an open platform
Amazon didn't make the Echo a closed garden. There are new skills and games being added every day. Many larger companies are creating apps that work with Echo. I love that Amazon allowed the device to be platform agnostic instead of trying to build their own proprietary network of apps to force people to use. I don't have to choose the to-do list apps, fitness trackers or other cloud tools and smart home devices based on what works and doesn't work with Echo. If it doesn't work on Echo, it's probably not on any other Echo-competing device either (unless it's a Google product...).
Making Different Versions
I like that they've created different versions. The Echo Dot was a great way to have an "Echo light" of sorts to get used to the platform without having the powerful speaker. Now you have the Echo Look and the Echo Show. I have a feeling that the Echo Look or Echo Show will have a short shelf life in terms of consumer interest but love that they don't try to have a one-size-fits-all product. Each version of Echo fits the needs of different types of users. Only time will tell if this segmented approach was worth the effort or if they fail due to a lack of focus on making just one product extremely well.
While I am a fan of Echo and am excited to see the different directions it takes (or rather, the directions developers take it by building fun Alexa skills), there are a two features I wish it had.
You can now call other Amazon Echo users using the device but that's it. Google Home recently announced a feature that let you call any number in the world using their device. I wish there as a way Echo would allow me to tether my phone to use it as a speakerphone. My feeling is that they'll probably get there - I just wish they were there already.
Directly connect with a Kindle Fire TV
Our cat has chewed through several cords, plugs and window sills in our house. One of the casualties was our Google Chromecast. I've thought about replacing it with Kindle Fire TV instead...if it synced up with Alexa. I really wish I could control my TV with the Echo. That'd be awesome. Or at least, say "Hey Alexa, show me ____" and it'd appear on my TV. It'd be like having an X1 without having to pay Comcast more money than we already do. It's not a huge deal but I think it'd be a cool feature.
What about you? I'm always looking for new skills and tips for using my Echo. Feel free to drop some in the comments!