Back in January, we published an article that told the story of Adam, a two-year-old boy with a curious and developing brain. Adam’s folks started noticing him picking up their phones and telling them what he wants to see. “Moo,” Adam says, looking for the cow from one of his books. “Kakaw,” he squeals, wanting to see a bird. “Baaaa,” for the sheep. And so on. This has become a pattern — something he does without instruction.
He can’t type on a keyboard. He can’t perform a Google search. He can’t text his preschool friends. But he can ask questions and make sounds, and at a very young age has learned that this is the easiest and most natural way for him to get the response he desires. But what happens when his parents are off at work and there’s nobody to ask?
Hey Adam, meet your new friend, Alexa
While Amazon’s line of Echo devices has had parental controls for a while, the company announced the Echo Dot Kids Edition this morning — an Alexa-enabled device designed specifically for youngsters. While there are additions such as a protective colorful case, a worry-free warranty, ability to understand kids voices (Awexa!), and automatic parental controls, the primary value-add is a 1-year subscription to FreeTime Unlimited. “With the 1-year subscription,” Amazon states, “FreeTime Unlimited offers access to over 13,000 kid-friendly books, educational apps, games, movies, and TV shows from top brands like Disney, Nickelodeon, PBS, Amazon Originals for Kids, and more.”
Echo Dot Kids Edition – Amazon.com
The average parent can find good reasons to get an Echo for their kids. The device offers a seemingly bottomless selection of educational materials, can encourage good manners (“what’s the magic word?”), can enforce bedtimes, and can act as a communication device in larger households. Alexa is a companion when parents are at work or running errands.
But the implications could be much larger than they seem. There will be children who can’t remember a time before Alexa. Kids who grow up performing searches with their voice will turn into adults who navigate through many aspects of life with their voice — shopping, controlling devices, getting directions, sending emails, and so on. Assuming they stick with Alexa (rather than switching to an alternative such as Google Assistant), a child’s data will be stored, giving Amazon better analytics than any company has ever seen before. By the time Adam’s making purchases, Amazon will be able to predict what he wants like never before.
From a brand perspective, voice purchasing is a snowball that has just started rolling. Read Alexa: The Voice of Generations to Come for details on what makes a good voice strategy for brands that want to get ahead of the curve.
This article is part of a series of daily posts called Quick Bites.