Amazon Echo: The strange device that’s probably more than it seems

It makes sense that Amazon wants to put a tangible product and sensors in the home — Google is already doing so with its Nest smart thermostat and smoke detectors, and Apple is readying its HomeKit platform too, so developers can build apps and products that work together. So what sets Amazon’s strategic move a part from the rest?

According to James McQuivey, an analyst at Forrester Research, it’s all about the microphone.

“Amazon is the first to put a persistent microphone interface in your home, a listening and learning service that is ready to hear your every command,” McQuivey said. “Sure, it doubles as a connected speaker and some people will end up buying it for that, but the Echo will only achieve its real purpose when you start asking it questions, having it complete tasks for you — especially shopping tasks — just the way Apple hopes its users will interact with Apple Watch.”

Amazon could monetize the microphone by putting the device in places where you will think of things you want to buy — the kitchen, the bathroom, the living room — items which Amazon can then easily fulfill, he said.