Amazon Makes it Even Easier for PC Makers to Adopt Alexa

Posted on June 6, 2018 by Paul Thurrott in Hardware, Smart Home, Windows 10 with 17 Comments

Amazon Makes it Even Easier for PC Makers to Adopt Alexa

More bad news for Cortana: Amazon has made it easier than ever for all PC makers to bring Alexa-powered PCs to market.

This one will require a bit of explanation.

After bringing its Alexa digital personal assistant to 2014 with its Echo line of smart speakers, Amazon expanded the platform to include third-party speakers and other devices. In January at CES, the online retailer announced a further expansion of this platform in bringing Alexa to Windows 10 PCs. And four of the top five PC makers—Acer, ASUS, HP, and Lenovo—announced plans to bundle Alexa with their PCs.

In bringing PCs to market, PC makers of all sizes rely on companies called Original Design Manufacturers, or ODMs. These firms build PCs and PC reference designs for PC makers, allowing them to bring PCs to market more quickly and more easily. As the market has evolved, the biggest PC makers now rely less on ODMs and more on their own internal designs. But ODMs still play a very important role, especially for smaller PC makers. Even more so for the smallest, which are often referred to as white-box PC makers.

This week, Amazon announced that it has partnered with three ODMs—Compal, Quanta, and Wistron—to develop four Alexa-based PC solutions that white box PC makers and other PC makers can modify and sell to their own customers. Available designs include an All-in-One PC with a 27-inch UHD display, and 14- and 15.6-inch convertible notebooks. Each runs Windows 10.

“We believe voice is the next major disruption in the PC category, which is an important part of our ‘Alexa Everywhere’ vision,” Amazon’s Mariel vanTatenhove explains. “All of these pre-tested, final-product designs have been built for a far-field Alexa experience, with Intel CPUs, drivers, wake word engine, and microphone arrays.”

These Alexa for PC solutions are distributed and maintained by Amazon. And the firm says they are designed to make it easier for manufacturers to integrate the Alexa voice experience into Windows 10 PCs.

You can learn more about this effort at Amazon’s Original Design Manufacturers website. But if I’m reading this correctly, the “Alexa Everywhere” strategy, which is smart, will ultimately push Cortana further to the periphery. Or what we might call “Cortana Nowhere.”


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