On Amazon and Alexa-enabled headphones

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Last week, Bloomberg reported that Amazon is developing its own Alexa-enabled wireless ear buds – a significant move for sure. What does this mean for Amazon, and how do they avoid the missteps from the Fire phone? Mindshare’s Rachel Lowenstein, Associate Director, Invention+, had some thoughts:

It’s not necessarily surprising that Amazon is taking Alexa to headphones – they’ve brought her to every other piece of hardware from cars to televisions. Why wouldn’t they integrate it into a piece of hardware that, for many consumers, goes everywhere with them? 

However, this foray into hardware that is so intrinsically linked to the usage of a smartphone might be one of the more important battles to pay attention to in the war for big tech to own the voice operating system. Unlike smart speakers or smart cars, headphones are extensions of our bodies – voice-enablement means they become the ultimate autonomous vehicle in serving our every need. Food, commerce, security – Amazon has been bullish on being inescapable in every part of our lives. Alexa-enabled headphones are perhaps the most inescapable form of this if they’re now literally in our heads.

If Amazon can get this right, it won’t matter what happened with the Fire phone because headphone usage goes hand-in-hand with smartphones. What they will need to consider in order not to be like the Fire phone is balancing sound quality (to compete with other players like Bose, who already have Alexa-enabled headphones) with cost (because Airpods are relatively inexpensive in the marketplace and Siri-enabled).

To discuss more about what Amazon will need to do for success in this space, you can also check out Adweek’s coverage of the news.