We are living in less frivolous times. Consumers want the new things they purchase to offer them real benefits. Alexa appears to be reinforcing the fear that early adoption can lead to disappointment as it fails to earn a sustained place in many homes. So what’s wrong?
Poor user experience
The main benefit of ‘voice’ is a more intuitive, more human experience. But voice-activated smart technology appears to have some very human faults.
Alexa has been called a chauvinist and a racist: recognising male but not female voices in the household and having trouble with accents
It’s socially inept: with the irritating habit of interrupting conversations. The first couple of times it's funny but that soon wears off
It’s not very smart for a ‘smart’ device: people’s expectations are high and Alexa is poor at answering what consumers see as simple questions e.g. Who is x married to? A question that could be easily answered by a quick google
It’s inconsistent e.g. can verbally add things to the shopping list but can’t verbally delete items from it. That makes it unintuitive
No clear benefit
For many consumers we meet, the benefits of Alexa just don’t appear to make the product ‘worth the plug socket’ so their Alexa is now unplugged and unloved. We have often heard ‘it’s a great novelty but it soon wore off’.
Connected home and smart tech can play a big role in aiding house security, however there is some anxiety about how much of our lives is visible to someone hacking into our tech as all our movements are monitored (Alexa knows when you are catching that bus, Nest knows you are on holiday). Some consumers have confided to us that they whisper about their plans if Alexa is in the room.
The bad news for the industry is that products like Alexa appear to make it harder for other connected home innovations to gain adoption because they can undermine confidence in these products. In these testing times, one disappointing investment can make the whole category fail the socket test.