This week Amazon made lots of news with their announcement about the Echo Show, a video and touch screen enabled version of the popular Echo digital assistant that will arrive in late June. Then they dropped the bombshell. Echos new and old, along with their Alexa mobile apps, can make calls between one another, much like Skype offered in its earliest days.
In essence, Amazon has announced that their AWS platform is phone service ready. And, that’s a significant move on so many levels for the e-tailing giant.
The calling and texting features on face that are being offered today are no big deal. The audio quality is average. The texting is not positioned as being secure. In an era where HD calling is now available from all the major mobile operators and some leading VoIP carriers, rolling out a service without it doesn’t exactly win fans over. Having the text chat feature inside the app, and not making it secure when services like WhatsApp, Signal, and Telegram already are, makes the Amazon calling and chat app so AOL AIM like from a bygone era that by itself the Alexa calling feature is no big deal.
The calling service also lacks real call control, and the audio or text message is only being piped through their AWS server before sending it as SIP or WebRTC traffic to the based endpoint. It lacks call hold, call forwarding and even the ability to call others who are not using an Alexa.
But that’s not what this is all about.
It’s about Amazon taking on the telco carriers, and using their own network to carry the voice, text and eventually, video traffic. In essence, Amazon is learning how to beat the same companies who currently supply it with connectivity, in the same manner, that their logistics efforts are being groomed to replace UPS and the USPS in some ways. It’s also like Amazon Studios and the Amazon Fire box or stick that delivers content to Amazon Prime Now, gaining them subscribers over their competitors' networks.
What Amazon is doing is recognizing that they can do more for their customers for less, while coexisting and competing with the same companies who supply them services. That’s how Amazon is leveling the playing field and why the move into voice and chat has such a familiar ring to it.