After wandering among thousands of exhibitor booths, sampling the brain fruit of so many ambitious tech entrepreneurs, undeniable patterns emerge.
Amazon’s Voice Drowns out the Rest
The first is this: Amazon's Echo device was only the thin end of the wedge. Their underlying Alexa Voice Service platform is the real threat to every company that hopes to continue breathing in the age of IOT. At last year's CES, there were a tiny handful of devices that licensed AVS, and these were the subject of tremendous chatter and attention (for example, Triby, a simple speaker/screen combo that mounts on your fridge and focuses on family communication.)
Today, that limited seed has grown into a mighty oak. A running joke at CES 2017 is the sheer tonnage of devices that are now Alexa-enabled, regardless of whether they really should be. This certainly makes Amazon the brand that “won” at CES without really being there: Attendees consistently remarked that every second or third booth featured a humdrum household object that was yet another interface for Amazon to enter your life, from car dashboards (Ford Sync) to smart thermostats, garage doors, security systems, cameras, home hubs and... you get the picture.
Taking a step back, it's clear that Amazon is amassing what looks like an unassailable position in the increasingly important natural-language interface category. This week's announcement that the Wynn hotel is installing an Amazon Echo in each of its 4,748 rooms only reinforces Mr. Bezos' shrewd strategy of making his AVS platform open and developer-friendly and offering cash incentives to hardware companies willing to sign on to his vision.