Being Too Early Is Worse Than Being Late

Amazon owned the AI assistant space -- until the space changed
Being Too Early Is Worse Than Being Late
Photo by Jan Antonin Kolar / Unsplash

Several years ago, Alexa was riding high. Amazon's voice assistant was the talk of the town – quite literally. While Siri was first to the space, she was basically put in shackles by Apple. Amazon seemingly had the right strategy – one Apple would never dare match – of making Alexa ubiquitous by putting cheap Echo devices anywhere and everywhere. As such, Amazon's tech permeated all of our lives. Google, Microsoft, Samsung, and others scrambled to run similar playbooks. But Alexa had basically all the mindshare in the space.

Fast forward to 2024 and Alexa now seems dumb. Because compared to ChatGPT and the newer generation of chatbots, she is dumb. When OpenAI showcased GPT-4o's ability to have more lifelike conversations via voice, Alexa and Siri were like two dinosaurs looking up at the asteroid barreling down upon them. It was over.

At WWDC a couple weeks back, Apple responded with a revamped version of Siri, now powered by their own personalized LLMs (and backstopped by ChatGPT). Given all of our histories with Siri, I'll remain skeptical until proven otherwise – and that may take a while! – but the notion of a digital assistant powered by newfangled AI and infused with actual knowledge about you at least sounds compelling. So what's Amazon's answer?

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