Amazon is continuing its mission to further burrow itself into our daily lives. It was almost two years ago when it released the Amazon Echo to the general public and in late 2016 it unleashed the Amazon Echo Dot, both of which are speakers powered by Alexa. The commands vary from playing music and TV shows to add things to your list and even buying products from Amazon. Friday it was discovered that Amazon is planning to release up to two more devices that will dive even deeper into everything you say. The new devices, not yet named, will let consumers make phone calls by voice, and it’s also reported that you can talk to others that have Alexa powered devices just like you would talk to others using an intercom system.
Currently, Amazon’s variants of the Echo as well as Google Home are taking off as people are eager to buy them, even if it’s nothing more than a conversation starter. Therein lies the problem, keeping people engaged with these devices after the novelty wears off. Earlier this year Voice Labs conducted a study of trends in AI platforms. Of the over 7000 voice apps that use Alexa skills, 69% show signs of low usage. The report also doesn’t paint a pretty picture for retention as it said that if a new user enables a voice app, it only has a three percent chance of keeping that user in week two on average. At this point, phone calls and intercom features could be the thing that lifts these devices to its full potential and prevents it from becoming just another decoration.
It is worth noting that Amazon had led a Series A investment in Nucleus, a company that has a tablet meant to replace video intercom systems. In fact, they sell them through Amazon. A spokesman for Nucleus said that it is focused on the future of simple family communication and can’t speak to Amazon’s plans. He also said there are many video platforms out there but none that work with just a simple tap or voice command. There are still a lot of unknown details, but the hardware is in beta testing internally and an announcement is expected in the coming months.