“The long-term goal (with Alexa) was to try to invent the Star Trek computer,” says David Limp, Amazon’s SVP of devices and services. “I grew up watching Roddenberry and loved it. We all loved watching it and the science had moved up enough where we thought we had a shot at it. It’s still going to take us years, if not decades more, to get to the shining star that is that Star Trek computer. But we think we can do it.”
David Limp, SVP of Devices & Services at Amazon, discusses the future of devices and Amazon’s role in building trust and protecting privacy in an interview on CNBC at the Amazon re:MARS conference in Las Vegas:
Long-Term Goal With Alexa Is To Invent the Star Trek Computer
The long-term goal (with Alexa) was to try to invent the Star Trek computer. I grew up watching Roddenberry and loved it. It was a lot more innocent than you might make it out to be. Which is, can we invent that computer? We all loved watching it and the science had moved up enough where we thought we had a shot at it. It’s still going to take us years, if not decades more, to get to the shining star that is that Star Trek computer. But we think we can do it.
If you have that in your house or in your car or in your conference room, you’re going to find all sorts of things to do with it. Some, Amazon will invent and it’ll help Amazon. But much more, it’ll help developers. There are 90,000 plus skills and hundreds of thousands of developers building around Alexa right now. If you’d five years ago said there’s going to be a new developer ecosystem that’s not about an operating system and that’s not about applications, but about skills in the cloud, you would have laughed at me. But here it is sitting in front of us, all around us, right here.
Our Focus Is To Invent On Behalf Of Customers
Our focus is to invent on behalf of customers. If we keep our focus there and build cool things that customers love to use and continue to earn their trust, which we have to do every day, then we think the outputs will speak for themselves. We focus on that. Customer trust is kind of the oil of the Amazon flywheel. We think about it every day. It’s thinking about privacy as you think about the kinds of products that we’re doing. Whether it’s a Ring doorbell or it’s an Echo sitting in your kitchen, it has to be foundational to the product. It’s not something you glom on later as an afterthought.
We think about it at the very upfront when we’re beginning to invent the product. We’re gonna put these in our homes. What do we want to think about privacy? What do we think about trust? We build features into the products and into the services where (those concepts) are first and foremost and paramount. We’re continuing to evolve that as well. It’s not like you’re going to get everything right day one. As we learn from customers we’ll add new features and services that build on that and add more privacy and trust as we go on.
The First Thing Is To Get Customers To Love A Product
The first thing is to get customers to love a product. If you build a product that customers love and use then good things usually come in consumer electronics when you do that. For us, that’s the first thing that you want to do. It happened early on with Kindle. People loved it and then we figured out how to build a book business around it. Similarly, the great thing about Echo and Alexa is that customers love the product.
I don’t think that they’re necessarily buying more yet because of that but they are doing certain things in digital that leads to buying some more things. Specifically, we’ve kind of brought music back into the home again. It had an atrophied in the home. Now music subscription services, Spotify, Amazon music, and Apple music starting last year. They’re growing on Echo and Alexa. People are listening to audiobooks. We have a business there in Audible with the subscription services. Those are the early signs where you start seeing that. In addition, people are buying more smart home products. Whether it’s a smart plug or a light bulb or a robotic vacuum, people are buying those more because it’s easier to control with a voice interface.
Anything That Advances Privacy For Customers, I’m a Fan Of
Anything that advances privacy for customers and gives them a more trusted environment, I’m a big fan of as a consumer. I don’t know enough about that product (announced on Monday by Apple) to weigh in on the specifics of it. As you think about Amazon and our credentials and being able to log on to Amazon, we’ve been doing that for 20 plus years. Your credit card number and your address which we ship your products to, that’s sacrosanct. We have to build trust every day. Any other company or any other person that’s furthering that I think it’s just great for the industry.