We have all head about voice assistants. Cortana, Siri, Bixby, OK Google and Alexa. GadgetGuy spent lots of time with Alexa based speakers and has prepared Alexa 101. It’s a guide to Alexa and some of the speakers that use it. Speaker shootout is here.

What is Alexa?

Alexa is a virtual voice assistant developed by Amazon. Alexa manifests herself (yes, we will assign gender) via hardware like the Amazon Echo Dot, Echo, Plus and third-party speakers from Ultimate Ears and Sonos – to name a few. We have a speaker round-up at the end of this article.

It recognises the watchword Alexa (or change it to Amazon or Computer) and sends your question/request to the Amazon Cloud. There it is analysed for a response.

Although Cortana, Siri and Bixby pre-date Alexa she was really the ‘first to market’ at least in the U.S. That is a strong position and accounts for it enjoying sales dominance there. But the later introduced Google Assistant is nipping at her heels and outselling in some markets like Australia.

Is Amazon a tech company?

Amazon is the world’s second trillion-dollar company. Apple is the first. It started 1994 as a cloud computing service (Amazon Web Services). It built an empire based on online delivery of goods and services. Underpinning it is a very sophisticated analytics system to generate demand for its products and an e-commerce fulfilment system to deliver them.

It took just ten years for it to overtake the US’s largest bricks and mortar retailer Walmart.

What does Amazon own/do?

  • Amazon.com and Amazon Prime membership for additional benefits
  • Prime Music and Music Unlimited (and variants)
  • Prime Video (and variants)
  • Amazon Studios (creates video content)
  • Amazon App store (for its Amazon devices)
  • Kindle and Kindle eBook store
  • Goodreads and Shelfari – user’s recommendations for Amazon Books
  • Audible – spoken entertainment
  • Alexa – voice recognition, shopping and analytics
  • Fire TV devices – casting video content to a TV
  • Fire Tablets
  • Echo speakers and devices
  • Digital Games Store
  • Twitch live streaming games platform
  • Amazon Wireless
  • Amazon Web Services
  • ComiXology – digital comics platform
  • Amazon Fresh and Whole Foods Market
  • Amazon search and reviews
  • And many, many more enterprises in over 130 countries
  • The Wikipedia Article is here.

Why does Amazon want Alexa to succeed?

Voice control is considered the next big thing before we get a Matrix style direct neural interface!

Alexa is its way to cement Amazon into your life. You need to understand that by purchasing Alexa, almost everything it does has a focus on Amazon products, services and partnerships.