Amazon launched the Alexa in 2014 internationally and is now planning to launch its virtual assistant or an intelligent personal assistant, Alexa in India soon this year. Before we proceed further, Amazon's Alexa is a software that can perform daily tasks or services for an individual. It was developed for the Amazon Echo and the Amazon Echo Dot devices that with the help of a voice command, perform tasks like music playback, making to-do lists, set alarms, streaming podcasts, playing audiobooks and providing other information such as weather forecast, traffic and much more in addition to other apps.
Now, this week, Amazon announced that its Alexa will soon be equipped on some BMW and Mini cars by mid-2018. BMW had joined hands with Amazon in 2016 to add Alexa to the BMW Connected App, which will also feature in Mini vehicles. The Amazon Alexa on BMW and Mini cars will use microphones that will be embedded into the car to perform such tasks. It will also display information like weather with graphics and will also assist in other daily chores/ tasks like opening the garage door, lock and unlock the car or checking car's fuel status remotely from any place.
Amazon Alexa is a direct rival for Apple CarPlay and Google Android Auto, which is available in many vehicles across the globe. Moreover, BMW will not be the first car manufacturer to get Amazon's Alexa. In January this year, Ford at the CES (Consumer Electronics Show) announced that it is partnering with Amazon to bring Alexa into its vehicles that are equipped with SYNC 3 infotainment system.
However, in India, Amazon is yet to launch Alexa and it will take some time for the Indian auto market to equip Alexa into the vehicles. It is also expected that initially, it might not be a success in India as it will be launched only in English, limiting its reach and usage in the country. However, it is also said that the company will introduce regional languages at a later stage. There are about 234 million regional language users online as compared to 175 million English users, reported a study conducted by Google in partnership with KPMG. Some of the challenges faced by Amazon, apart from regional languages, will be network connectivity, shortage of power supply and limited infrastructure.
In markets like the US, Amazon Alexa has gained popularity and success, as they have better infrastructure and their houses too have smart connectivity where people just give a command to turn off the electricity and do other work. For India, the concept of IoT (Internet of Things) still needs some time and is very new. How successful it will be in a country like India will become clear only after its launch.