You can now get access to Amazon Alexa for free with the new Dash Wand. Amazon Dash always seemed like a bit of an experiment. These are the wireless buttons you can press to automatically reorder Ziplock plastics bags, Tide and Gatorade. But, each button was limited to a single product. Dash Wand is a new way to order anything you want and it involves Alexa.
Spend $20 and Get $20 Back
When you bought a Dash Button for $4.99, you would get a $4.99 credit on your first purchase making the device effectively free. The Dash Wand is borrowing this strategy. The new devices cost $20, but you get a $20 credit on your first purchase. This the first solution that brings access to the Alexa voice assistant for free.
Pioneering Low Cost Access to Voice Assistants
Amazon changed the price dynamic of voice assistants even before a competing product was announced. On the eve of Google announcing a $129 price point for Google Home, Amazon rolled out the Echo Dot at only $49. It has been routinely discounted when purchasing multiple Dots and even fell to $39 for Cyber Monday.
A national consumer survey by Morning Consult found that price was the biggest motivator for consumers considering smart speakers like Amazon Echo and Google Home for purchase. Price was the top factor for 30% of the market while the next closest decision criteria came in at only 14%. A full 57% said price was very important. The Echo Dot and now the Dash Wand have no competition in the low price voice assistant product category. You can buy about three Echo Dots for each Google Home and now you have Dash Wand at less than half the price. The Apple HomePod which was announced last week is in an entirely different category at $350. Apple is staking out the premium category while Amazon goes for the masses.
Plenty of Alexa Features But No Hands Free Operation
The Dash Wand has many Alexa capabilities. You can, of course, order food and kitchen supplies and interact with simple information and smart home automation skills by voice. It even has a barcode scanner as a means to add items to your shopping cart. However, it is not hands free operation. You must press a button to activate the device. This is similar to the original Amazon Echo Tap. However, that device added hands free operation back in February.
The Dash Wand may be less likely to get hands free capability because it is designed to be used in your hand where the microphone and speakers can both operate at short range in the near-field. If you had an Echo on the counter next to you, would you really pick up the Dash Wand and press a button instead of just asking Alexa through the Echo? Probably not. However, the barcode scanner is a clever feature that many people may find handy and the $20 price point, or free offer, is hard to ignore. You cannot listen to streaming music over the device or podcasts so it won’t really replace devices where music listening is consistently reported as a top use case.
The Alexa Everywhere Strategy
The Dash Wand is part of Amazon’s “Alexa Everywhere” strategy. The more people get used to using Alexa in their living environment, the more they will form habits around it. When Google Assistant and Siri usage expands, it will be harder then to fully displace Alexa.
Amazon has been aggressive about removing friction that might prevent users from trying and eventually adopting Alexa. The company was the first to encourage third party OEMs to integrate Alexa into their devices and offers the feature at no cost unless there is a lot of use. Amazon was also the first to bring a low-price device to market with the Echo Dot. The Dash Wand just reduced those barriers to zero.