07:30 10th Jan, 2020
Amazon Showcases Nothing New at CES 2020
Possibly because it had already done a mega launch some months ago and wanted to take a breather before stashing our cars with most of its products
When Amazon goes low-key at a tech event, the industry sits up and takes notice as they expect Jeff Bezos to take centerstage. This time neither the company nor its head honcho created any ripples as Amazon kept its conversations revolving around data privacy, in-car entertainment and big-daddy Shaquille O’Neal from the world of NBA.
An obvious reason could be that the company had launched a slew of products during its annual event held late September. Or it could be that Amazon wanted to lie low for a bit and secede space to its competitors in the hope of finding out what next is on the horizon. However, the most plausible explanation is that Amazon doesn’t really dig the CES circus.
Make no mistake though as the company does have a robust presence at the Las Vegas Convention Center showcasing products from its Fire TV range, the Alexa Assistant and the Ring Home security range, not to mention other sound and light equipment, some of which were launched earlier this year and others that are likely to appear in the months ahead.
However, when it comes to grabbing headlines, it was the comment from its top executives about security and civil rights that did it. The hardware honcho said was proud of the company’s program of using its Ring range of home security products to sign up with police departments across the United States to protect the neighborhood, a claim that has been dissed by civil rights organizations.
David Limp, who heads Amazon’s devices and services business, told the CES Conference that Ring had already partnered with 400 police and fire departments in the US in a bid to boost community policing efforts. “I am proud of that program and I think we will continue to do it. If anything, we are putting more resources to it,” he said in what could be a red rag to civil rights activists who have been attempting to get lawmakers to clamp down on the product.
Another event that grabbed attention was the evening gala where O’Neal made an appearance and quizzed Amazon officials about their products on display. There was also celebrity chef Guy Fieri who spoke at length about Amazon’s Food Network Kitchen integration with Alexa.
For the uninitiated, this was a joint effort by Discovery and Amazon to hook food lovers to a streaming service that offers recipes, cooking tips and live shows featuring celebrity chefs. The platform was announced in September and is currently available for subscription on both Android and iOS platforms.
On his part, Shaquille O’Neal is both an investor and brand ambassador for the Ring range of home security products that Amazon had acquired. He went around the exhibition that was organized into sections that defined the company’s products and ways it helps people around the house. So, we had sections such as ‘busy parent’ and ‘work-from-home employee’!
To some the first CES of this decade was about a clash of virtual assistants from Google and Amazon though Apple surprisingly kept silent on this front, instead harping on privacy while sharing stage with Amazon and Facebook. However, from Amazon’s point of view, the only remotely interesting thing to come out was Alexa’s ability to put fuel charges on our credit card linked to the online account.
It’s quite simple actually. All one needs to do is drive into an Exxon or Mobil stations and say ‘Alexa, pay for gas’ and the voice assistant seeks confirmation of the station one is at, the pump that is being used and then charge the card connected to the Amazon account. The new feature will be available at 11,500 locations to start with.
Looks like a load of gas, isn’t it? Maybe, it is time that some of the big guns take a break from CES, especially if they have nothing noteworthy to present.
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