Absent an Apple Siri alternative, Alexa hardware family tops Amazon holiday sales charts

Posted:
in General Discussion edited December 2016
Amazon has declared the holiday 2016 shopping season as "the best-ever season" for its voice-driven personal assistant Alexa, despite having problems keeping the sought-after devices in stock.




In a press release heralding Amazon's holiday performance, the company notes that the Amazon Echo family of devices -- including the Echo Dot, Echo Tap, Fire TV Stick, Fire Tablet, and Amazon Echo -- grew more than 9 times versus the 2015 holiday season.

Apple has no stand-alone speaker device like the Alexa-powered Dot, Echo, or Tap. Apple's Siri is included in the iPhone, and iPad, with a more limited implementation in the Apple TV Siri remote.

Amazon continues to refuse to sell the fourth-generation Apple TV, instead, offering up a mount for the device as a first choice, and the Amazon Fire TV as a "Best Seller" in its place.




Highlights pointed out for the sales period by Amazon include more than 72 percent of Amazon customers worldwide shopped with a mobile device, with a growth of 56 percent in Amazon's mobile app alone.

Amazon very rarely divulges specific numbers of devices sold, only calling it "millions," and has only referred to them in proportion to the previous year.

Other vague statistics about sales this holiday season from Amazon include enough 4K televisions were sold to reach the peak of Mount Everest more than 9 times, and sufficient Sphero Star Wars BB-8 App-Controlled Robots were sold to roll as a relay around the Earth more than two times before the batteries collectively run out.

Apple-compatible devices and accessories leading Amazon sales charts were declared to be the 6-foot AmazonBasics Certified Lightning to USB Cable in the Wireless category, the AmazonBasics Mini DisplayPort (Thunderbolt) to HDMI Adapter in the PC section, the Blue Yeti USB Microphone in Musical Instruments, and the GoPro Hero5 camera.

AppleInsider noted on Monday that Amazon Alexa was one of the top trending searches on the App Store after Christmas, suggesting customers were looking to connect to a new Echo accessory gifted for the holidays. The Amazon Alexa app continued to rank as the sixth most popular free download on the App Store as of Tuesday afternoon.

Other potential hits this holiday season, based on App Store trends following Christmas, included Fitbit fitness tracking accessories, low-priced camera drones, GoPros, Google Cardboard virtual reality, and the Furbo Dog Camera, a treat-tossing Wi-Fi camera with two-way audio.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 79
    As Amazon refuses to sell Apple TV (or Chromecast) products that compete with the awful Fire TV, I am not certain that an Alexa competitor by Apple would have been sold by Amazon either. 
    watto_cobrajay-tr00fus1macxpressMetriacanthosaurusmacguijony0
  • Reply 2 of 79
    Although I'd rather have an Apple-branded competitor, I'm very pleased with the three Echos I've purchased and use them all multiple times each day for various tasks. One somewhat silly difference is that I find Alexa's voice clearer and more pleasant than Siri's.
  • Reply 3 of 79
    freeper said:
    As Amazon refuses to sell Apple TV (or Chromecast) products that compete with the awful Fire TV, I am not certain that an Alexa competitor by Apple would have been sold by Amazon either. 
    I agree... But some of those that wanted a home type of device like this that would have chose Apple are now in the Amazon Eco system.  Lets face it, Apple is the new Microsoft.  Big Goliath thats slow to react to anything.  They just can't walk and chew gum anymore.  They can only update the iPhones yearly, the rest of their lineup is either a nuisance and gets cancelled or just a hobby that gets updates every 3 to 4 years.  Meanwhile Tim has been talking about amazing pipelines while other companies are selling actual products.  I remember a time when the opposite was true (ahh the good old days)
    blastdoorravnorodomanantksundaramdewmecalipmcdtechprod1gygoodbyeranchbrucemcAI_lias
  • Reply 4 of 79
    zroger73 said:
    Although I'd rather have an Apple-branded competitor, I'm very pleased with the three Echos I've purchased and use them all multiple times each day for various tasks. One somewhat silly difference is that I find Alexa's voice clearer and more pleasant than Siri's.
    I've been trying to find out -- what sort of tasks do you do w/ your three Alexa devices? 
    ravnorodompscooter63watto_cobraMetriacanthosaurus
  • Reply 5 of 79
    SoliSoli Posts: 10,033member
    zroger73 said:
    Although I'd rather have an Apple-branded competitor, I'm very pleased with the three Echos I've purchased and use them all multiple times each day for various tasks. One somewhat silly difference is that I find Alexa's voice clearer and more pleasant than Siri's.
    1) I can't see a need for three of them, but I am planning on getting a Dot as my bedroom clock/alarm. No lights, just voice activated, which I hope helps creates a better sleeping environment. The alarm with Alexa is interesting. It's effective, but it's not jarring so it creeps into you in what I can only describe as ethereal yet overpowering, which I've only remembered during REM sleep.

    2) Maybe it's the much better speakers and mics in the Echo, but Alexa sounds great and listens very well. I love that the app and website list all the commands you've made and lets you rate them for accuracy. If Siri had that option maybe Apple could get it to understand the user a little better. Plus, Alexa responds so quickly to a command that it's remarkable that it's have to query an internet server. I hate that with "Hey, Siri" you have pause before making your request or it'll miss the first couple seconds. Amazon really make a great product with the Amazon Echo and the Alexa service.
    ravnorodomanantksundaramcalir00fus1firelock
  • Reply 6 of 79
    zonezone Posts: 59member
    I think the real issue is who cares? Amazon makes almost not profit on these sales. Since there is no real eco system not sure if it really matters. I cheeped out and bought a fire tablet for my son who is 5 and it broke within 4 months, Never dropped, never mistreated. Got a refund and Amazon didn't even want the tablet back? Guess they are not really worth anything...
    watto_cobracali
  • Reply 7 of 79
    SoliSoli Posts: 10,033member
    zone said:
    I think the real issue is who cares? Amazon makes almost not profit on these sales. Since there is no real eco system not sure if it really matters. I cheeped out and bought a fire tablet for my son who is 5 and it broke within 4 months, Never dropped, never mistreated. Got a refund and Amazon didn't even want the tablet back? Guess they are not really worth anything…
    1) I care.

    2) There is a very rich ecosystem. Their 3rd-party apps are called Skills, but the device so much already that there are few extra Skills I even need with my Echo.
    ai46adamcAI_lias
  • Reply 8 of 79
    blastdoorblastdoor Posts: 2,837member
    altivec88 said:
    freeper said:
    As Amazon refuses to sell Apple TV (or Chromecast) products that compete with the awful Fire TV, I am not certain that an Alexa competitor by Apple would have been sold by Amazon either. 
    I agree... But some of those that wanted a home type of device like this that would have chose Apple are now in the Amazon Eco system.  Lets face it, Apple is the new Microsoft.  Big Goliath thats slow to react to anything.  They just can't walk and chew gum anymore.  They can only update the iPhones yearly, the rest of their lineup is either a nuisance and gets cancelled or just a hobby that gets updates every 3 to 4 years.  Meanwhile Tim has been talking about amazing pipelines while other companies are selling actual products.  I remember a time when the opposite was true (ahh the good old days)
    I think the period of time during which Apple successfully walked and chewed gum was actually pretty short, if by "walk and chew gum" we mean "maintain multiple product lines". 

    They started off as the Apple II company. 

    Then they switched to being the Mac company (seriously alienating die hard Apple II fans in the process). 

    Then they became the iPod plus Mac company. That eventually worked ok, but there were some major bumps along the road -- the early 00s weren't great for the Mac (hello Cube). 

    Then they became the iPhone plus Mac company. There were initially some big bumps in the road, such as the delay of Leopard. But they got things under control around the time of Snow Leopard. 

    Then they became the iPhone plus iPad plus Mac company. From about 2010 to 2014, this was a golden age -- probably the best stretch in the history of the company. It had some bumps -- like Maps -- but it was clearly a golden age. 

    Today Apple is trying to be the iPhone plus iPad plus Mac plus Services company, potentially with some massive new efforts in the pipeline (autonomous car; AR/VR). They are now hitting some serious bumps in the road. It's definitely a step down from the golden age, but that golden age was an outlier. 

    I think Apple has serious problems, but at the same time they also have tremendous advantages and assets. They need to address their problems, and it's by no means a slam dunk that they'll do that. But I think it's do-able, and my guess is that they'll do it. It just kind of sucks right now, particularly for those of us who want to buy a new Mac Pro. 

    Edit -- one point i forgot to make, though -- I don't think Apple should try competing with Echo/Alexa right now. I think their priorities should be:

    1. Make the Mac great again (this is low hanging fruit -- so easy to do, and the reward will be a nice surge in Mac sales growth)
    2. Get the iPad growing again by addressing all the little things that are obstacles for education and corporate deployments (there needs to be an iCloud pro that addresses the needs of those markets better)
    3. Keep the iPhone moving forward. I think it would be better to include AirPods with every new iPhone 7s than it would be to have an OLED-screen iPhone 8. I actually think AirPods are a bigger deal than OLED screens. 
    4. Update the AppleTV to include an A10X chip, thereby making it a much more credible gaming console



    edited December 2016 Rayz2016jay-ttechprod1gyadamctokyojimu
  • Reply 9 of 79
    mattinozmattinoz Posts: 1,948member
    So how many have been sold compared to Apple Watch?
    ai46StrangeDayswatto_cobrabrucemcr00fus1
  • Reply 10 of 79
    SoliSoli Posts: 10,033member
    mattinoz said:
    So how many have been sold compared to Apple Watch?
    Only a fraction of Apple Watches have been sold compared to Amazon Echos. That fraction is 1,000,000/1, but a fraction nonetheless. :tongue: 
    r00fus1
  • Reply 11 of 79
    About time we see a Siri driven version
  • Reply 12 of 79
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 10,174member
    Why anybody would keep one of these devices in their homes is shocking. These things are connected to the Internet and listening 24/7/365. Nobody knows what Google or Amazon, or even Apple, if they had such a product, is doing with all that listening data. Besides responding to user questions are they also programmed to listen for conversations about specific topics like politics, religion, brand names, etc? Sounds like the perfect snooping device for gathering data. Could pollsters use the data to see which candidates users are talking about in their private living rooms? If AT&T is sharing data with the NSA/CIA what’s keeping Google or Amazon from allowing them to listen in as a bugging device that also answers questions posed to it. It’s creepy to me. And NO, I don’t trust Google or Amazon, Apple or any corporation to protect my privacy.
    singularitytechprod1gyben20adamcbrucemc
  • Reply 13 of 79
    SoliSoli Posts: 10,033member
    lkrupp said:
    Why anybody would keep one of these devices in their homes is shocking. These things are connected to the Internet and listening 24/7/365. Nobody knows what Google or Amazon, or even Apple, if they had such a product, is doing with all that listening data. Besides responding to user questions are they also programmed to listen for conversations about specific topics like politics, religion, brand names, etc? Sounds like the perfect snooping device for gathering data. Could pollsters use the data to see which candidates users are talking about in their private living rooms? If AT&T is sharing data with the NSA/CIA what’s keeping Google or Amazon from allowing them to listen in as a bugging device that also answers questions posed to it. It’s creepy to me. And NO, I don’t trust Google or Amazon, Apple or any corporation to protect my privacy.
    They are listening for a key word. If you're worried about skullduggery from these electronics then you need to worry about any device that has a microphone or camera. Even if one feels that, say, Apple would never do such a thing there's no way to be certain that an Apple product hasn't been hacked to enable the cameras or microphones, but I have a feeling you're not worried about a real threat, only the illogical perception that because it's listening for a key phrase before recording a query that it must be recording everything all the time. Do you not see the folly of your rationale?
    edited December 2016 ai46singularitytechprod1gyadamcbrucemcgatorguy
  • Reply 14 of 79
    I think it's quite ironic how people will PAY amazon for these continuous listening devices that let amazon increase their already large data file on you. However, if you even mention the slightest weakening of encryption to help thwart the almost monthly terrorist attacks occurring in the western world people come out with pitchforks. 
    watto_cobraapple jockey
  • Reply 15 of 79
    zroger73 said:
    Although I'd rather have an Apple-branded competitor, I'm very pleased with the three Echos I've purchased and use them all multiple times each day for various tasks. One somewhat silly difference is that I find Alexa's voice clearer and more pleasant than Siri's.
    I've been trying to find out -- what sort of tasks do you do w/ your three Alexa devices? 
    My first Echo went in a central kitchen/dining/living area. The second Echo is in the master bedroom on one end of my home. The third is an Echo Dot in one of the guest rooms on the opposite end of my home. I need multiple units to cover most of the areas I frequent. I use them to:

    Set hands-free kitchen timers when cooking ("Alexa, set a timer for 30 minutes. Alexa, set another timer for 10 minutes. Alexa, how much time is left?")
    Add items to my shopping list then use the app to check off the items at the store ("Alexa, add shaving cream to my shopping list. Alexa, add orange juice to my shopping list.")
    Set the temperature setting of my Nest thermostat ("Alexa, set the living room temperature to 72 degrees.")
    Turn lights on and off ("Alexa, turn the lights off. Alexa, dim the living room lights to 50%.")
    Listen to the news ("Alexa, what's the news?")
    Listen to audiobooks ("Alexa, play To Kill a Mockingbird from Audible.")
    Listen to music ("Alexa, play pop songs from 1991. Alexa, play songs by Paul McCartney.")
    Get traffic information before my commute to work ("Alexa, what's my commute look like?")
    Hands-free calculator ("Alexa, what is 16 times 25? Alexa, how many tablespoons are in a quarter cup?")
    Wake me up in the morning or from a nap ("Alexa, wake me up at 6 AM. Alexa, wake me up at 3 PM.")

    This is just the basic stuff that I use fairly often. There are additional "skills" for additional functionality (some useful, but mostly junk - the assortment of which is quickly becoming bloated). Siri can do much of what Alexa does, but the Echos are always on, don't need to charged, and have sound quality superior to the built-in speakers of iOS devices.

    edited December 2016 singularityRayz2016tokyojimu
  • Reply 16 of 79
    Soli said:
    They are listening for a key word. If you're worried about skullduggery from these electronics then you need to worry about any device that has a microphone or camera. Even if one feels that, say, Apple would never do such a thing there's no way to be certain that an Apple product hasn't been hacked to enable the cameras or microphones, but I have a feeling you're not worried about a real threat, only the illogical perception that because it's listening for a key phrase before recording a query that it must be recording everything all the time. Do you not see the folly of your rationale?
    IoT devices don't exactly have the best security track record especially compared to apple products. I mean the Dyn DDos attack using IoT devices was what a few weeks ago? 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 79
    blastdoor said:
    altivec88 said:
    freeper said:
    As Amazon refuses to sell Apple TV (or Chromecast) products that compete with the awful Fire TV, I am not certain that an Alexa competitor by Apple would have been sold by Amazon either. 
    I agree... But some of those that wanted a home type of device like this that would have chose Apple are now in the Amazon Eco system.  Lets face it, Apple is the new Microsoft.  Big Goliath thats slow to react to anything.  They just can't walk and chew gum anymore.  They can only update the iPhones yearly, the rest of their lineup is either a nuisance and gets cancelled or just a hobby that gets updates every 3 to 4 years.  Meanwhile Tim has been talking about amazing pipelines while other companies are selling actual products.  I remember a time when the opposite was true (ahh the good old days)
    I think the period of time during which Apple successfully walked and chewed gum was actually pretty short, if by "walk and chew gum" we mean "maintain multiple product lines". 

    They started off as the Apple II company. 

    Then they switched to being the Mac company (seriously alienating die hard Apple II fans in the process). 

    Then they became the iPod plus Mac company. That eventually worked ok, but there were some major bumps along the road -- the early 00s weren't great for the Mac (hello Cube). 

    Then they became the iPhone plus Mac company. There were initially some big bumps in the road, such as the delay of Leopard. But they got things under control around the time of Snow Leopard. 

    Then they became the iPhone plus iPad plus Mac company. From about 2010 to 2014, this was a golden age -- probably the best stretch in the history of the company. It had some bumps -- like Maps -- but it was clearly a golden age. 

    Today Apple is trying to be the iPhone plus iPad plus Mac plus Services company, potentially with some massive new efforts in the pipeline (autonomous car; AR/VR). They are now hitting some serious bumps in the road. It's definitely a step down from the golden age, but that golden age was an outlier. 

    I think Apple has serious problems, but at the same time they also have tremendous advantages and assets. They need to address their problems, and it's by no means a slam dunk that they'll do that. But I think it's do-able, and my guess is that they'll do it. It just kind of sucks right now, particularly for those of us who want to buy a new Mac Pro. 

    Edit -- one point i forgot to make, though -- I don't think Apple should try competing with Echo/Alexa right now. I think their priorities should be:

    1. Make the Mac great again (this is low hanging fruit -- so easy to do, and the reward will be a nice surge in Mac sales growth)
    2. Get the iPad growing again by addressing all the little things that are obstacles for education and corporate deployments (there needs to be an iCloud pro that addresses the needs of those markets better)
    3. Keep the iPhone moving forward. I think it would be better to include AirPods with every new iPhone 7s than it would be to have an OLED-screen iPhone 8. I actually think AirPods are a bigger deal than OLED screens. 
    4. Update the AppleTV to include an A10X chip, thereby making it a much more credible gaming console
    There's a lot of doom here, but tell me -- how is the lack of OLED screen hindering users? Especially since Gruber reports they still aren't as color accurate as iphone's current screen. 
    watto_cobraRayz2016adamcbrucemc
  • Reply 18 of 79
    SoliSoli Posts: 10,033member
    securtis said:
    Soli said:
    They are listening for a key word. If you're worried about skullduggery from these electronics then you need to worry about any device that has a microphone or camera. Even if one feels that, say, Apple would never do such a thing there's no way to be certain that an Apple product hasn't been hacked to enable the cameras or microphones, but I have a feeling you're not worried about a real threat, only the illogical perception that because it's listening for a key phrase before recording a query that it must be recording everything all the time. Do you not see the folly of your rationale?
    IoT devices don't exactly have the best security track record especially compared to apple products. I mean the Dyn DDos attack using IoT devices was what a few weeks ago? 
    I'm not sure of the relevance. Apple has had plenty of many security issues recently, some lasting for years. While we only found out about it right before or when I fix was issued, it doesn't mean that others couldn't have known about it and exploited these devices during that time.

    The bottom line is anything that connects back to a network (or has the potential to connect back to a network) has the potential to record you usage. Whether this is intercepted via a network, recording your direct UI actions or app usage, or turning your microphone and/or camera on and recording. There is no "this is secure because it's Apple" or "Google Home is recording everything you're saying because it has an always listening feature with "OK, Google."

    I have a Samsung TV with a microphone. You have to press a button on the remote to use it, like with the Apple TV, but I saw no need for it so I disabled it. Still, the microphone could be always listeningrecording and then sending the data back to Samsung. It could also be looking at what I watch and then sending that data back to Samsung since the TV is connected to the internet and I have my Netflix and Amazon Prime Video accounts connected to it because Apple doesn't offer a 5th gen Apple TV option with UHD and HDR support. But would I be paranoid to think that everything I watch is getting monitored, cataloged, and sent to Asia as some Korean Mr. Burns taps his fingertips together whilst saying, "우수한!"?
    edited December 2016 apple jockeyadamcgatorguy
  • Reply 19 of 79
    I love the headline, "absent an Apple alternative", as though readers of this forum have never been exposed to the frustrations and limitations (and ultimately, disappointment) of Siri. It remains to be seen whether Apple's version of this would be competitive on price or capability (see MacBook Pro). 
    adamc
  • Reply 20 of 79
    blastdoor said:
    altivec88 said:
    freeper said:
    As Amazon refuses to sell Apple TV (or Chromecast) products that compete with the awful Fire TV, I am not certain that an Alexa competitor by Apple would have been sold by Amazon either. 
    I agree... But some of those that wanted a home type of device like this that would have chose Apple are now in the Amazon Eco system.  Lets face it, Apple is the new Microsoft.  Big Goliath thats slow to react to anything.  They just can't walk and chew gum anymore.  They can only update the iPhones yearly, the rest of their lineup is either a nuisance and gets cancelled or just a hobby that gets updates every 3 to 4 years.  Meanwhile Tim has been talking about amazing pipelines while other companies are selling actual products.  I remember a time when the opposite was true (ahh the good old days)
    I think the period of time during which Apple successfully walked and chewed gum was actually pretty short, if by "walk and chew gum" we mean "maintain multiple product lines". 

    They started off as the Apple II company. 

    Then they switched to being the Mac company (seriously alienating die hard Apple II fans in the process). 

    Then they became the iPod plus Mac company. That eventually worked ok, but there were some major bumps along the road -- the early 00s weren't great for the Mac (hello Cube). 

    Then they became the iPhone plus Mac company. There were initially some big bumps in the road, such as the delay of Leopard. But they got things under control around the time of Snow Leopard. 

    Then they became the iPhone plus iPad plus Mac company. From about 2010 to 2014, this was a golden age -- probably the best stretch in the history of the company. It had some bumps -- like Maps -- but it was clearly a golden age. 

    Today Apple is trying to be the iPhone plus iPad plus Mac plus Services company, potentially with some massive new efforts in the pipeline (autonomous car; AR/VR). They are now hitting some serious bumps in the road. It's definitely a step down from the golden age, but that golden age was an outlier. 

    I think Apple has serious problems, but at the same time they also have tremendous advantages and assets. They need to address their problems, and it's by no means a slam dunk that they'll do that. But I think it's do-able, and my guess is that they'll do it. It just kind of sucks right now, particularly for those of us who want to buy a new Mac Pro. 

    Edit -- one point i forgot to make, though -- I don't think Apple should try competing with Echo/Alexa right now. I think their priorities should be:

    1. Make the Mac great again (this is low hanging fruit -- so easy to do, and the reward will be a nice surge in Mac sales growth)
    2. Get the iPad growing again by addressing all the little things that are obstacles for education and corporate deployments (there needs to be an iCloud pro that addresses the needs of those markets better)
    3. Keep the iPhone moving forward. I think it would be better to include AirPods with every new iPhone 7s than it would be to have an OLED-screen iPhone 8. I actually think AirPods are a bigger deal than OLED screens. 
    4. Update the AppleTV to include an A10X chip, thereby making it a much more credible gaming console
    There's a lot of doom here, but tell me -- how is the lack of OLED screen hindering users? Especially since Gruber reports they still aren't as color accurate as iphone's current screen. 
    Where did I say that a lack of OLED screen is hindering users? 
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