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Alexa smart home dominance is fragile without global launch


NewsHub“Alexa, why are you winning the smart home market? ”
It seems every appliance that’s any appliance is adding Alexa support at CES 2017 , giving Amazon a commanding lead in the race to become the de facto smart home standard.
Here in Las Vegas, and the United States, it’s clear that there is a love of Amazon’s skill-based voice platform and how it’s bringing useful smart home features to life faster than any other platform. But as someone who lives in Australia, where Amazon Echo has not launched, I’m left wondering when we’ll get to join Alexa’s gang.
LG’s Instaview was announced with Cortana support but is launching with Alexa instead.
But this isn’t a story of FOMO or sour grapes. In the battle to become the brand that is synonymous with the smart home experience, building a global footprint will become important very soon. In a global market for smart home appliances and services, selling to two of 200 countries won’t keep you in the driver’s seat for long.
To date Alexa has only publicly launched in the US and UK. That does make sense. Alexa helps Amazon make more money only when it’s integrated into its suite of services and can order you home delivery shopping from local warehouses.
In Australia, we can’t buy most of the Amazon product catalogue because they can’t be shipped to Australia from the USA. We have Audible, we have Kindle and we only just got Amazon Prime Video. To bring us the complete Alexa experience requires a massive investment in warehousing infrastructure that takes a lot more commitment than just selling a bunch of smart speakers.
But the essence of a smart home platform isn’t really about selling a few specific services and groceries. It’s about making the appliances, lights and services around my home work together seamlessly. And it’s the easy answers to quick questions about weather, news, trivia and other useful tips and tricks. Alexa just happens to have worked really well for all these things too. Hardware manufacturers seem to find Alexa to be an easy enough platform to integrate with, giving it that tipping point feeling at CES this year.

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