Fear the Sphere
It’s going to take awhile to unpack the Amazon hardware event. Many interesting ideas were presenting and I remain VERY IMPRESSED that Amazon continues to churn out brave ideas at this event. Apple, Google, and Samsung’s events are tame by comparison.
One thing I was taken back about is the new design of the Echo. We’ve gone from cylinder, to stouter cylinder and puck, to now sphere. The shape seems to follow the Echo Glow light, which maybe means Amazon has applied some lessons from developing and manufacturing the Glow.
However, the Echo isn’t the first spherical hardware device.
The Nexus Q in 2012 was a spherical device that had NFC and WiFi and was designed for home entertainment. I don’t remember if it was Sergey Brin or Larry Page who were demoing how people at a party could use their Nexus phone to queue up music. I guess I didn’t go to enough parties to understand the use case.
Then there was the Homey device. It was launched on Kickstarter in 2016 as a voice assistant device. It’s still being sold, now with Google Assistant integration. They went the high end / open route for the device, which likely made their business more sustainable.
Now, with the new Echo, it’s interesting to try to understand why they’d go with a spherical device. Is there a new mic array? Is it just aesthetics? Is the audio much better?
Regardless, after nearly six years of Echos, it’s good to see new Echo devices break free of their cylindrical moulds.