The Amazon Echo is selling well. Very well. Add together the worldwide sales of the Echo, the Amazon Echo Dot, Amazon Echo Tap, Amazon Echo Show, and Amazon Echo Spot, and you end up somewhere around the 50 million mark. But are they being used as Amazon intended?
According to The Information, two people shown internal company figures have revealed that, of those 50 million users, just one million have used the Echo to buy products on Amazon. Perhaps tellingly, just 100,000 have decided it was worth doing more than once.
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On one level, this isn’t in the slightest bit surprising. As a regular human, it can’t have escaped your notice that people like to actually see the products they’re considering buying before they part with their money. Just asking your Echo to buy you a toothbrush, say, feels like taking too much of a gamble both on your dental care and your bank balance.
But on another, this isn’t really good enough for Amazon. Yes, it’s great that the Echo is selling well in a product category that didn’t even exist five years ago, but the purpose – as with everything Amazon does – is to sell more stuff.
As founder and CEO Jeff Bezos once tellingly said in a 2016 interview about Amazon Prime Video: “When we win a Golden Globe, it helps us sell more shoes.”
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Just as the Kindle exists to sell more Amazon eBooks, much of the Echo’s appeal to the company is that it should help sell everything – from books to computers. That clearly isn’t happening.
Of course, just because it isn’t filling virtual shopping baskets, doesn’t mean that the Echo isn’t passively making money for Amazon.
The company’s Audible audiobook platform is pushed quite heavily within Echo, as is Music Unlimited – which behaves more intelligently on the Echo than chief rival Spotify. The latest Echo for Kids requires a subscription to use the child-friendly functions too.
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All the same, these numbers must feel a little disappointing to Amazon, and it wouldn’t be entirely surprising if the company wasn’t looking at ways to make shopping on Echo a little more tempting for owners going forward.
Whether that’s via discounts or through a heavier emphasis on screen-based devices, we’ll just have to wait and see.
Have you bought anything through the Amazon Echo? Let us know on Twitter @TrustedReviews.