Tag Archives: Amazon Echo

Voice Command

Voice CommandIt’s only been about two months and Alexa has changed the way I interface with my devices.

I’ve had Siri since I switched from a Blackberry to an iPhone4S. (The S stood for Siri.)

The new smartphone was such an improvement over my Blackberry Pearl that I never used Siri much in the beginning, later, I would use her to type my text messages, but that was about it.

Enter Alexa…

All that changed this past Christmas when my fiancé, Sue, put an Amazon Echo Dot into my Christmas stocking. It took about two weeks before I finally got around to plugging the Dot into electrical power, downloaded the Amazon Echo app to my iPhone7 and connected the Dot to our house Wi-Fi.

Now Sue has never been thrilled by all the remote controls to operate our TVs, radios and audio systems. And truthfully, I wish it could be simpler too.

Alexa teaches us both new tricks, by simply talking to her artificial intelligence voice. And we both love it!

Hey Siri…

Once adapted to Alexa, I began to use Siri to do more things on my iPhone7 and AppleTV.

We cut the cord last year but to satisfy my news diet, I put in Sling TV with the news package. The rest of our TV watching is filled up with Netflix, Amazon Prime and YouTube. New movies that we missed at the local theaters or never played in our area are viewed using iTunes.

Finding something to watch used to be rather tedious, but now, I just say “Hey Siri…”and she goes off and finds it, offers me the viewing options available to me (I always opt for the FREE route) and the program begins immediately.

GARMIN

Something that has long been on my bucket list has been driving across America from coast-to-coast and seeing those things I’ve only seen by flying over them. Places like Mount Rushmore, Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon etc. Lucky for me, that’s been on Sue’s bucket list too.

We put up a big map of the United States in our kitchen and have lined out the route we plan to take with bright yellow dots marking our planned stops along the way.

In preparation for this 8,000-mile, eight-week trip, I bought the latest GARMIN SmartDrive 61 GPS. It comes with the ability to do “Voice Commands” for plotting your next destination, finding hotels, restaurants and points of interest.

Thanks to Alexa and Siri, I quickly embraced this feature.

But it doesn’t stop there, my new GPS also links to my smartphone and displays news bulletins, real-time traffic, weather conditions, my complete contact phone book, helps me to find parking and then remembers where I parked when I want to return to my car. And it makes it all easily accessible by just using my voice.

But You’re a Radio Guy

Whenever I write something about new technology, what I hear back are things like, “You’re a radio guy” or “you love technology.” The meaning being, I’m not like your average consumer. But, I believe that just as Amazon has changed the way we shop for just about everything, Alexa will bring about a similar change in the way we interface with our devices.

Carnegie’s Constant Reminder

One of the many radio publications I would read daily was Jim & Cathy Carnegie’s Radio Business Reports (RBR). If there was one thing I remember most about that publication under Jim’s reign, it was about dealing with change. Jim constantly banged the drum warning the radio industry “to get with it or be left behind by it.”

He reflected change by taking his own publication and changing the way it would be delivered and cover the broadcasting industry. He led by example.

Seniors & VADs

I know the young person’s perception are that senior citizens (anyone with an AARP card) is stuck in their ways and not likely to adopt anything new. Well, I’m here to tell you, you would be wrong. Especially, when it comes to voice activated devices (VADs).

I fully anticipate that seniors, aka Boomers, will lead the adoption of these devices. One of the reasons being they enable us to eliminate the multitude of buttons and collection of remote controls by simply using our voices.

What I Learned About Seniors from a Pharmacist’s Son

Back when I was put in charge of a thousand-watt, daytime, Music of Your Life radio station, I remember going out and meeting with clients to build up my new radio station’s client base.

One day, I walked into a pharmacy thinking that my “old folks format” would be perfect for people needing medication. Well, I never got the pharmacy on-the-air for drug announcements.

Upstairs above the pharmacy, the youngest member of the family had started an electronics division, selling the latest computers, phones, and other gadgets. He told me he’d love to be a big advertiser on my radio station catering to the over 65 age group.

Why?

Because, he told me, unlike young people who when something new came out, would look at it and say, “I’m going to wait until they come out with the new and improved version,” seniors would buy it on the spot.

What he learned was, seniors felt they could afford to have the latest technology now, and if something better came out, they’d trade up to that next. And this was almost 40-years ago!

Now, with my AARP card occupying a place in my wallet for more than decade, I can tell you, that’s exactly how I feel.

Get on board the change train

OR

Get left behind

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My First Echo

My First SonyBack in the 1980s, SONY introduced a series of small-scale electronics for kids. They came in brightly colored plastic with large buttons that were easy for little people to control. The line was called “My First Sony.”

SONY even introduced this line with a slick TV ad. Take a moment and watch it HERE.

The tag line in the ads was “What I love is my first Sony. It won’t be your last.”

That was over 30-years ago.

Voice Activated Devices

This past Christmas, my fiancé, Sue, gave me an Amazon Echo Dot. Why a Dot and not the larger version? Because I said I didn’t want one of these things. Heck, I own a “million” radio sets.

But she figured for $29 it would make a fun stocking stuffer.

Amazon Echo’s and Google Homes’ were the hot Christmas gift of 2017. Amazon said that they sold “tens of millions” of Echo devices all over the world and that it’s Echo Dot and Fire TV Stick with Alexa voice remote were its most popular products across all categories.

Our Family Got Bigger

The Echo Dot was so easy to set-up and begin using. You basically plug it in. Then use your smartphone to connect it up to your WiFi and begin using it.

Like most new owners, the thing we used it for was to play music.

Now the Dot has a speaker akin to the one in my iPhone7. It reminded me of the sound that I used to get out of my first Zenith transistor radio back when I was in grade school. But then, it sounded great listening to the oldies on WMEX-FM via TuneIn radio. It’s the way I originally heard all of these songs.

My fiancé is not a fan of my many remote controls and especially all the buttons they have, but she very quickly fell in love with Alexa and controlling everything with her voice. We both did.

Alexa quickly became the third member of our family.

I told Sue that I could see us getting an Amazon Echo with the bigger speaker in our future.

Happy Valentine’s Day

That future came on Valentine’s Day 2018. I gifted the love of my life jewelry, candy, a romantic dinner out and she gifted me an Amazon Echo. Oh, there were many other things she gifted me, but the second Echo device is what I remember most and quickly put into service in our living room replacing the location previously occupied by the Dot.

When we got back home from our Valentine’s Day dinner, we sat on our living room couch, and asked Alexa to play our favorite love songs.

No Going Back

When I think of how quickly Alexa has taken over our lives – and we haven’t even scratched the surface of all she can do – I realize that there’s no going back.

It’s like giving up the microwave oven in the kitchen, or power windows in the car, or Google search or the internet. Once you have made these new innovations a part of your life, you won’t ever wish to return to a life before them.

The TV remote control made it possible to quickly change channels without leaving the couch. The video cassette recorder and then the DVR made it possible to no longer be chained to the TV network’s schedule. Netflix made watching a series, a binge affair.

Now these voice activated devices are changing the world of audio.

Quickly.

Addictively.

So, What Happened to the Dot?

If you’ve read this far, you might now be wondering what happened to our Amazon Dot.

It’s been re-deployed to the bedroom where it now puts us to sleep and wakes us up.

And it sounds great! Thanks to my BOSE Wave Radio.

Amazon Echo Dot & Bose Wave Radio

Let’s see the next holiday on the calendar is St. Patrick’s Day. I could see getting a couple more of these Dots to connect to our other BOSE Wave Radio and other radios I have in each room of our home.

Alexa, welcome to the family.

 

 

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I Cut the Cord

113I finally did it. I cut the cable cord in July 2017. It had been something that I had been thinking about for well over a year now.

Each time my local cable company was gobbled up by a larger cable company nothing really changed except that my bill went up. And up. And UP.

How Many Channels Do I Really Watch

I did an analysis of my TV viewing habits and found that most of my TV habit revolved around LIVE news programs, YouTube, HBO, Showtime and Netflix.

I can spend a whole evening sometimes just going through the viewing options on Netflix and call it a night without ever watching a single program sometimes. (I know if you have this service you’ve probably done it too.)

When I looked at the number of shows I was watching on HBO and Showtime, it came down to about one program per service each. So, I’m temporarily going without either of them for the time being. But I also know that if I access these services via OTT (Over The Top) TV, I can get full access to their library vs. only selected access via a cable bundle’s On Demand offering.

LIVE TV

The thing that had me staying connected to the cable bundle was access to LIVE TV, especially the news channels like CNN, MSNBC and FOX.

I also am a weather geek and so The Weather Channel often would be on my TV screen while I played the radio. My new set-up doesn’t access the live meteorologists on TWC but I have the TWC App on my iPhone7 and so I really have access to all the weather information I need at the touch of my screen.

SLING TV

My dilemma to accessing LIVE TV for news programming was solved when I learned about SLING TV. SLING offers CNN, MSNBC and FOX 24/7 LIVE. I bought the SLING BLUE package for $25/month. No contract to sign and I can terminate the service (though I serious doubt that will happen) at any time. I also added the news option to SLING BLUE for $5/month. My total TV package is now $30/month.

SLING TV now controls the lion’s share of subscribers according to comScore with more than 2 million users as of June 2017.

APPLE TV

I access SLING through a 4th generation AppleTV. AppleTV offers quite a few other options for news and entertainment viewing. One being CBSN, the new CBS 24/7 news channel that reminds me of the old Headline News.

AMAZON PRIME

My fiancé had Amazon Prime when I moved in with her in Virginia but was not taking advantage of her access to Amazon TV that comes with a prime membership. AppleTV doesn’t have a way to access Amazon TV (I don’t know why this is) but Amazon TV can be accessed on any Apple computer, iPhone, or iPad. So, I downloaded it to our iPad and now stream it to our large screen HDTV with excellent quality for both picture and sound.

USA OTT Viewing Time

In a report released by comScore the research company reports that SLING, AT&T’s DirecTV NOW and Sony’s PlayStation Vue garner around 3.1 million viewers. Those same services now command 54.6% of OTT usage.

Impact on Radio

Does any of this have an impact on radio? Well it just might when you consider what Amazon just introduced in June 2017, the Amazon Echo Show.

While the radio industry was just beginning to wrap its head around the Amazon Echo, Google Home, Apple HomePod and Microsoft/Samsung’s Cortana Voice Activated Devices (VADs), along comes the Echo Show with a touch screen. “In addition to its usual Alexa powers, the Echo Show is a phone, TV, karaoke machine, and digital photo frame. The screen stays on even when you’re not using it,” writes CNN tech.

The world of communications technology is changing at breakneck speed.

It’s a “Winner Takes it ALL” game.

“Just when I think I have learned the way to live,

life changes.”

-Hugh Prather

P.S. on Monday, August 7th, a great new book “Fired Up! SELLING” will be released. If you’re in sales or just a lover of inspiring quotes like me, this little book is a MUST HAVE for your library. 268 people are quoted in this book.

Full disclosure, I was one of the quote judges that worked on putting together this book. It was a labor of love and working on it made for a very inspiring year that truly fired me up.

Here’s a link to the book on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Fired-Up-Selling-TM-Energize/dp/1885167830/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1501771980&sr=8-1&keywords=fired+up+selling+quotes

 

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The Winner Takes it ALL

108Everything old is new again. I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase. “Everything old is new again” was the title of a song in the movie musical “All That Jazz.” Part of the lyrics to this Peter Allen/Carole Bayer Sager song include:

 

Don’t throw the pa-ast away
You might need it some rainy day
Dreams can come true again
When everything old is new again

I might fa-all in love wi-ith you again

VADs

While I haven’t heard anyone call them this yet, I may be the first, I’m sure in time they will be referred to in this way, Voice Activated Devices.

You probably better know them as Amazon’s Echo, Google Home or Apple’s HomePod.

Amazon was first into this territory followed by Google and now Apple (their device will be available later in 2017). Microsoft recently announced they have partnered with Harmon Kardon to put the MS VAD “Cortana” into a smart speaker system. Harmon Kardon is a division of Samsung.

Fred Jacobs blogged about them in a recent article titled “Are Voice Commands the New Hi-Fi?” (Hi-Fi was introduced with the 33-1/3 discs introduced by Columbia 69 years ago this month – June 20, 1948.) In his article, he quoted Spotify’s Ian Geller who said voice commands allow people to “engage with music in ways they haven’t since the Hi-Fi stereo system became available.”

Fred feels that these new VAD’s are a “true moment for the radio industry – a chance to bring radio back to homes in a big way.”

The Old That’s New Again Part

As I study these new gadgets, I see a problem for radio of its own making, branding.

The radio I grew up with was very creative and prolific at branding itself with its listeners. It had to be because of the way radio ratings were conducted, either by aided or unaided recall. Billboards, bumper stickers, TV ads, t-shirts, putting your call letters and frequency on just about everything, everywhere it could be seen.

From virtually the beginning burning your call letters into the brains of your listeners was paramount.

Consolidation and PPM (Personal People Meter) would take the need to brand – or so the new Wall Street stakeholders thought – away. Consolidation did this through many signals in the hands of a few operators and the need to cut costs. Arbitron’s (now Nielsen Audio) PPM device did it by recording “listening” even when the listener was totally unaware of where the music or talk programming was coming from.

The new Voice Activated Devices now require a person to KNOW exactly what it is they want to hear when they say the activation words, like “Hey Alexa” or “Hey Google” or “Hey Siri” followed by a specific request.

Unaided recall is back.

Wi-Fi, Hi-Fi & Being Connected

While these new VADs maybe the new “Hi-Fi” for a 21st Century world, they require Wi-Fi to connect to the internet and their respective clouds.

While many of us today take access to a broadband connection for granted as our parents did a landline telephone line, many people in America were not so fortunate. Poor people or people in very rural areas depended on assistance from the Federal government to connect them up to a wired telephone line because private companies found doing so very unprofitable. The Universal Service Fund (USF) was established to provide the funding. Everyone who had a phone would pay a tax to help wire America.

As the need for internet broadband became as necessary in a 21st Century world as a phone line did in the 20th Century, the tax would continue to provide this telecommunications service in the United States.

To read about all of this more detail, click here

Various Ways to Listen

Public Radio in America is leading the way with directing people with the many ways they can be heard. A good example is WBAA AM & FM from Purdue University. Their “How To Listen” tab on their website informs the listener how to listen to their stations over-the-air, streaming online, via their App or via a Voice Activated Device.

This last VAD page also tells listeners how to listen to NPR One using voice commands, such as “Alexa, play NPR One.”

BRANDING Your Radio Station is IMPORTANT

Using a VAD is a return to the days of unaided recall for the radio industry. The need to brand your radio station is critical in a Voice Activated Device world.

How is your KISS, FROG, HOG, JACK etc. different than other such brands all over the world? How will your VAD know which one you want to hear?

Might the return of unique and one-of-a-kind FCC assigned call letters come back into fashion?

Coleman Insights just released a study on Public Radio that shocked programmers with the fact that fewer than one in four radio users can call to mind any Public Radio station.

It’s a Winner Take All World

When the elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers is an old African proverb. It means that the weak get hurt in conflicts between the powerful.

Today, the powerful are Microsoft, Google, Amazon, Apple and Samsung. Each one having their own voice assistant it hopes will dominate the field.

Our 21st Century technology is altering the structure of competition in America as never before. It encourages more monopolies, a “Winner Take All” world.

Natural monopolies are not new. Utilities are an example, but they were heavily regulated. The natural monopolies created by the internet crush competition and that could negatively impact the American economy. Internet innovation moves fast, the Federal government moves very slowly and regulation won’t stop them from occurring.

You can’t order from Amazon on Google Home. You can’t access your favorite iTunes podcasts on Amazon’s Echo. Each device requires a subscription to their music library, unless you request over-the-air radio streamed into your VAD.

War Chests

Apple as of May 2017 had cash reserves of $256 BILLION. In fact, Apple, Microsoft and Google own 23% of all U.S. corporate cash outside the finance sector according to Moody’s.

iHeartMedia is still wrestling with over $20 BILLION of debt. And Cumulus maybe even worse off.

Their challenges are not those of the entire radio industry and money is not always the determining factor in innovation. A perfect example is how the Wright brothers beat Samuel Pierpoint Langley in the race to create powered controllable flight. Langley had the financial support of the United States government and failed while the Wright brothers succeeded using their own resources from their bike shop.

Crisis

The Chinese language uses two symbols to represent the word crisis. One symbol means “danger” and the other means “opportunity.” 109Radio has been here many times in it’s almost 100-year history before.

Smart operators are already speeding down the path of opportunity.

Are you one of them?

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