Amazon's first venture into the wireless phone market was a crash and burn moment — and that's us being kind. Their FirePhone went down in flames almost instantly, no pun intended.
It was an average-at-best device sold at an artificially high price to arouse consumer interest. Yep, that went down like a lead balloon, which isn't a surprise considering the only real feature was a 3D camera gimmick.
Essentially, the FirePhone had good hardware like its 6 built-in cameras to achieve that 3D effect, but its software was woeful — sort of like a physically fit person with a few screws loose (e.g., Ivanka Trump).
The FirePhone was never going to be one of the cool kids, despite Amazon's stage mom gesture with the premium pricing. But the tech giant's next attempt to be one of the mobile "in crowd" may be more successful, thanks to its Alexa artificial intelligence devices.
The Echo, Echo Dot, and Echo Tap have ensured that Amazon is able to compete in that arena, but the company wants to get some phone action in the meantime. However, this time, Jeff Bezos' pet project isn't going to directly compete with a new smartphone; instead, it's going to supplement the device you already have.
And how do we know about their innovative plan of attack? Thanks to some freely available patent snooping, that's how!
Amazon filed a patent on Tuesday titled Phone communication via a voice-controlled device, which showed how its Alexa-powered products could be integrated with an existing phone number without having to be paired with your smartphone.
A user's cell phone number may be associated with the device. When an incoming call is directed to the user's cell phone, the device may generate a notification. The user may utter a command that causes the device to establish an audio connection with a cellular carrier network, thereby facilitating the phone conversation while bypassing the cell phone. Similarly, a user may make an outgoing call associated with the user's cell phone. The outgoing call is facilitated through an audio connection between the device and the cellular carrier network, bypassing the cell phone.
In a nutshell, you could soon be able to tie your existing phone number to an Echo device, and it would then be able to make and receive calls with simple voice commands. Somehow, Amazon plans to do this without interfering with your existing phone.
Pretty innovative, right? Well, it's certainly a step up from the FirePhone fiasco which eliminated any consumer interest in an Amazon handset. Their latest attempt could prove to be infinitely more successful thanks to these Echo devices, however.
Evidently, Amazon is planning to take over your home, one gadget at a time. It's very obvious the company wants Alexa to become an integral part of the American household and creating a smartphone extension in any room with an Echo is certainly an intriguing prospect.
Personally, I don't own an Alexa... yet! The latest Amazon upgrade is definitely tempting me though. What do you think of the pending changes? Let us know in the comments section below.