Yesterday’s reveal from Amazon had a few interesting surprises: here is a run down taken from CNET‘s coverage, complete with some thoughts…
Amazon Luna: This $6 per month cloud gaming service gives people a wide variety of games for PCs, FireTVs, and smartphones. Games will be displayed in 1080p resolution, with 4K coming, and response time will be 60 frames per second. Smartphones running IOS 14 can play using web apps (in other words, not apps downloaded from the Apple App Store) but Android smartphones are not yet supported. And, with the $50 controller, gamers can connect directly to the cloud, rather than the primary gaming device (PC, FireTV or smartphone) thereby reducing latency and hopefully providing a more console-like experience. XBox and Playstation controllers will also work with the new service. Ubisoft is one of the game publishers supplying hit titles to Luna, in this case Assassins’ Creed Valhalla. Twitch, Amazon’s live gamer streaming service, will be integrated into Luna, ensuring that the new service is for core gamers.
Amazon Echo (Sphere): The new Echo looks nothing like the old Echo, but is a sphere and is in the middle of the line (Dot as entry point, Echo Studio as top of line). The new sphere comes in four colors and is touted to have improved sound, selling for $100. The Echo includes a Zigbee hub (wireless radio standard) to connect and communicate with other smart home devices, such as door and motion sensors and connected lighting. Clearly Amazon wants to continue to be the center of the smart home. It also supports Sidewalk, which is essentially a wide area network formed by sharing a reserved and partitioned slice of your Wi-Fi network with your neighbors, and vice-versa.
Other changes to Echo include a new spherical Dot with a better speaker, a kid’s Dot that features Sidekick, a service that reads books to kids. A Dot Clock is this generation’s clock radio.
A new Echo Show smart speaker and smart display not only pivots to follow you as you move around the room, but supports Netflix, Hulu and Prime Video and has a feature to “delete everything I have ever said.”
Eero 6 and Pro 6 are mesh routers that implement the faster and wider bandwidth Wi-Fi 6 standard. They are the fastest and widest covering routers from Amazon.
Ring cameras come to the car. Ring’s Car Cam and companion product for Teslas document traffic problems, fender benders and even burglaries. The Ring Car Alarm plugs into the car’s diagnostic port (yes, you have one) to sense when bad things happen to your car.
Always Home Camera is a drone mounted camera that can be enabled each hour to make 5 minute fly arounds of your home — inspecting doors, windows, pets and checking to see if your kid’s bed is made. The flying camera provides encryption to help lower the creepy factor if someone you don’t know gets a hold of your inside footage.
Ring Mailbox Sensor — is a small sensor to place on your mailbox door to alert you when you have mail, or when someone who shouldn’t is taking your mail or packages.
FireTV Stick 2020 and Lite — two new version of the FireStick streaming media controllers that offer more TV control, 4K resolution, and use less energy.
dis-rup-shun: Whew, that is a lot of stuff and most all of it looks cool. What are the big takeaways? Amazon has squarely planted itself in the center of the consumer experience. Between content, catalog supplies, groceries, home security, communications and gaming, Amazon is in the very center with purchasing power, stickiness (Prime), compelling pricing and instant delivery. Amazon whiffed on smartphones, but they are filling in all the spaces around the main device pillars of our existence, which Amazon seems to have contentedly ceded to others: TV sets, smartphones and PCs. Apple, of all power players, should be worried, as Amazon is quickly serving far more consumer needs than Apple. Google is struggling in the hardware business, and Microsoft pulled back on consumer products, save XBox and Surface, some years ago. There is no player close to getting in Amazon’s way!