I’m ditching my first generation Amazon Echo, aka “Alexa”, just when everyone else is embracing the invasive tech. At least that’s how it seems from where I’m sitting. I pre-ordered my echo when Amazon first offered them to Prime members [I’m no longer a Prime subscriber] and I’ve had mine for about 3 years. It’s probably not a big stretch of the imagination to guess why I’m parting ways with Alexa now, but I’ll list 3 reasons anyway. For the unimaginative among us.
Privacy and Security
Privacy is the obvious concern when you bring an always-on listening device into your home. It’s easy enough to rationalize that you don’t care about that too much. “It’s not like there is an actual person listening to every word I’m saying.” The arguments are the same ones brought up every time an invasive technology is released in the wild. I won’t bother rehashing them here. I will say this, however. The Echo will eventually be a privacy and or security nightmare for someone, and I’m betting it happens soon-ish.
Another Closed *ahem* “Echo”-system
Like many of you, I long ago sold my internet soul to Google, and and my hardware soul to Apple. I did manage to extricate myself from the ever growing ecosystem of Facebook and it’s associated entities, but they got what they wanted from me before I got out. I doubt I’ll ever be fully free of the influence of Amazon, especially when AWS (Amazon Web Services are taken into consideration) but the ecosystem I’m referring to now is that of the “automated home.” Alexa works with specific smart products (lightbulbs, for example) as does Google Home and others. Once you’ve outfitted your home with lights, locks, speakers, and what-not that work exclusively with Alexa, it becomes an ordeal to switch to a competing product line. I’m just not ready to commit to another closed system. I’ll revisit home automation once there are secure and open options to choose from.
I Barely Used It
In three years time Alexa served as an overqualified kitchen-timer/clock-radio combo. Early on I tried new “skills” every week, but they were never anything more than a novelty. I never shopped with my Echo, which is the primary result that Amazon is seeking. I never found an Alexa skill that fit my daily routine or my workflow. In fact, I only used it as a timer and music player because it was there and I felt I should be using this fancy gadget for something. I’m sure it’s a godsend for someone out there, but it is just overkill for me.
Ultimately, I had to ask myself if letting Amazon get another hook in me was mutually beneficial. I came to the conclusion that I just wasn’t getting anything out of the relationship. Bye, Alexa!
[Dave can be reached using the email link on this page. The comments are turned off on purpose. Dave is not curently using any social media. He is proud of that.]