Last week at a press event in Seattle, Amazon proved to the world once and for all that e-commerce company has the solution to all the problems nobody has. In a long line-up of newly announced products, the one that captured everyone’s attention was the brand-new Alexa-powered microwave.
Set to hit stores November 14th, just in time to capitalize on holiday season consumerism, this new microwave-oven will give users the ability to connect their Echo speakers to their new microwave and give it voice commands. Things like “hey Alexa, reheat last night’s ramen” may soon become favorite phrases in kitchens all over.
The kicker, however, is that despite being marketed as an ‘Alexa-microwave,’ Alexa isn’t technically built into the microwave. According to the Engadget, “The new microwave will connect to your Echo device via Bluetooth,” meaning you’ll still have to buy an Echo to use the device.
The microwave itself is actually fairly benign, resembling more of a ‘college freshman dorm room microwave’ rather than high-powered innovative technology. Amazon has already transformed both the grocery and book markets and offering this new product for just $59.99 retail perhaps demonstrates a new aspiration to take over the home appliance market.
This move marks the latest step Amazon has taken toward digitally breaking into our homes. As Jeremy White noted in an article for WIRED, “Amazon’s main goal is to own a sizeable stake in the connected home. Not only does it now have its digital-assistant speakers in, according to Amazon, tens of millions of homes across the world, helping us order more groceries through its own supply chains, earlier this year the company bought smart doorbell maker Ring, which among others things will help you let delivery staff drop off your Amazon purchases with greater ease.”
White continued reporting that, “Amazon is making its own hardware it can partner with installation companies and home builders to put Alexa devices in homes before you even move in.”
As CNN noted, while the Amazon likely won’t hull in a surge in revenues from these microwaves, what is ultimately more valuable is the information that Alexa collects from your voice commands. Allowing Alexa to listen in on conversations you have with your microwave (beyond things like, “where the hell is the start button?” gives Amazon insight into what people are eating. Conveniently Amazon now also offers its own grocery service. The dots connect themselves.
At the end of the day, Amazon’s new microwave is a pretty bland product. Even with voice controls, people still have to get up and walk to the microwave to retrieve their newly Alexa-heated delicacies. Perhaps the ultimate intent here was not so much to sell microwaves, but rather to open the door to installing Amazon products in every home, effectively privatizing bulk data collection. Who knows, maybe Jeff Bezos was a big fan of the Disney Channel movie Smart House and this is step one of his plan to create his own version of ‘Pat.’
lmao this Alexa microwave. It’s only $60 wha pic.twitter.com/cd92uQIJ8t
— nic nguyen (@itsnicolenguyen) September 20, 2018