OK, so I know that our phones and computers both have screens and access to the current lineup of digital assistants on the market which technically means we have had stand alone devices for sometime that give us visuals alongside the assistance we get from these assistants.
However, those devices are not actually multi-use. Although we have access to all of these digital assistants including Alexa, Siri, Cortana, Google Home, and even Samsung's Bixby, our laptops and phones are not dedicated to the service.
This past week the discussion around digital assistant based devices has heated up quite a bit with Apple's Phil Schiller stating that a screen is needed to use them and then Microsoft unveiling with their partner Harman Kardon, the upcoming Invoke speaker that will use Cortana but, according to forecasts from EMarketer Inc, Amazon is well out in front and it is their battle to lose.
That does not mean the other companies are going to stop their moves forward to expect this market to heat up very quickly. I mean senior executives in big tech companies do not say things without purpose so it would not surprise me to see Apple creating a new product in their hardware lineup that features Siri on a stand alone screen based device in the near future.
That means Microsoft and Google will be behind Amazon and Apple in this area and needing to play catchup to get a new device on the market with an integrated screen to compete with these other offerings.
Amazon's Echo Show ($229.99 on Amazon.com) has an expected availability date of 28 June 2017 and can be pre-ordered beginning today. This unveiling today shows the possibilities with a screen based digital assistant that ties into your smart home but one limitation that jumps out at me is they are only offering calling through the Alexa app.
I have been testing the Amazon Echo for the past few months and it is has quickly just turned into a way to play music in my home office. I am not sure that adding a screen to the device changes that use case for me but I guess we will see once it is on the market.
By the way, I recommend you take a look at the video included on the Echo Show product page at Amazon.com to see several usage scenarios in action.