Amazon already pretty much owns the online retail sector, it’s Kindle devices have impacted on the traditional book publishing industry and Amazon Prime is creating a real storm in the world of TV and the music industry. So what has the online giant got in its sights next?
Well how about radio? As one of this year’s hottest tech purchases, the Echo, Amazon’s voice-activated “home assistant”, has already found its ways into hundreds-of-thousands of UK homes. Sitting pretty in the corner of a room and constantly listening for its next instruction.
The Echo can order you a pizza, book an Uber cab and even turn your lights on and off with a simple voice instruction. But we’re guessing the majority of owners are using it as a device for streaming audio.
The ability to play radio stations, stream podcasts, read audiobooks or find millions of pieces of music via services like Amazon Prime and Spotify pretty much makes your boring old radio look like an antique.
While this potentially opens a new route to market for previously geographically limited local radio stations, it does present the question: Will it render the radio itself obsolete?
And if it does, should we be worried that a company like Amazon could potentially “own” the airwaves?
There is nothing new about Internet radio. However, the Amazon Echo just makes it so much more accessible. And once we start turning off FM signals (as they already have started doing in Norway) how long will it be before DAB comes under threat?
OK, perhaps we’re painting a bit of a bleak picture here but should a single company have so much control over vast swaths of our media landscape?
Ellen Ullman, a San Francisco-based writer and computer programmer is certainly more than a little worried about the omnipresence of connected devices in our homes, telling The Guardian: “It’s going to give you services, and whatever services you get will become data. It’s sucked up. It’s a huge new profession, data science. Machine learning. It seems benign. But if you add it all up to what they know about you … they know what you eat.”
Ullman continued: “With every advance you have to look over your shoulder and know what you’re giving up – look over your shoulder and look at what falls away.”