New Zealand media organisations latch on to Amazon Echo sensation ‘Alexa’ - UPDATED

  • Tech
  • January 24, 2018
  • Findlay Buchanan
New Zealand media organisations latch on to Amazon Echo sensation ‘Alexa’ - UPDATED
Shutterstock.com

Smart speakers and digitised helpers have been cited as this year’s big fish in New Zealand and warring virtual assistants. Amazon's ‘Alexa’, Google Assistant, Apple's ‘Siri’, Samsung ‘Bixby’ and Microsoft ‘Cortana’ are hot on the tech scene.

Of these, Amazon’s release of The Echo, Echo Plus, and Echo Dot speakers will be coming to New Zealand in early February. The interactive, interoperable smart speaker can accomplish a long list of mundane tasks; such as turn on the lights, play music, order pizza and more recently, supply snippets of news. 

Alexa is the brains behind the family of Amazon Echo smart products and will be a key feature of the Amazon speakers.

The Business Insider predicted the total number of Americans using voice-activated assistant devices was 35.6 million in 2017 and Amazon accounted for 70.6 percent of the voice-enabled speaker market in the U.S.

On local soil, vying media organisations NZME, Fairfax, and TVNZ have pounced on the opportunity to collaborate with the Amazon Echo smart speakers. The ploy will cater to the changing expectations among audiences to access news, entertainment, and information.

So, how will the fusion of virtual assistants and media perform in New Zealand?

Amazon Alexa's launch will enable users to activate one minute of nationwide news, by simply stating “Alexa, play my flash briefing” or "Alexa, what is the news today?", and its making news organisations excited.

The user will be offered the choice of minute-long news bulletins provided by StuffThe HeraldNewstalk ZB or 1 News.

Stuff editor Patrick Crewdson believes “Stuff’s flash briefing will be a swift and snappy shot of local news for listeners”.

Meanwhile, NZME has contributed three skills to Alexa, allowing Kiwis to stay up to date with the latest news via The Herald, Newstalk ZB flash briefings as well as be entertained with ZM’s on demand.

Chief digital officer at NZME Laura Maxwell says Alexa can help you do thousands of things.

"Now that includes staying up to date on the latest news and sports happening here and around the world.”

TVNZ’s1 News has also launched a skill on the Amazon Echo speakers, which enables Alexa to read out the news bulletin that is updated twice daily.

TVNZ’s head of news and current affairs, John Gillespie, says the 1 News skill for Alexa gives New Zealanders an innovative way to access the latest local and international headlines, making it easier than ever to stay up to date with breaking news stories that matter.

MediaWorks is yet to disclose its plans in regard to virtual assistants, however, a spokesperson believes it will have some exciting product developments coming in the smart assistant space.

According to TechCrunch, the original Apple virtual assistant, ‘Siri’, remains the most popular with 41.4 million monthly active users in the U.S, however, it has dropped 15 percent since last year, equivalent to 7.3 million users.

Correlated to the decline in monthly users is the exponential growth of the Amazon Alexa usage – up 325 percent in monthly active users, according to the same source.

Amazon Echo has harnessed voice activation software in the home, while consumers were ambivalent about using ‘Siri’ in public spaces according to The Business Insider. It says people are embarrassed by 'Siri' and reports only three percent of American users activate 'Siri' in public. 

The bucking trend of voice computing in the comfort of the user's home is also likely to increase the time that consumers spend online, according to a Verto analysis.

However, not everybody is sold - sceptics of Amazon’s smart speaker are unsure what to do with virtual assistants, including a statement by Justin Hosseininejad in the New York Times, who suggests smart speakers are "a solution looking for a problem".

UPDATE:

SKY TV is also planning to develop a skill with Amazon for launch next month, focused on content discovery. It is currently working with Rush Digital on the project. 

Although Bauer is yet to disclose a concrete release, it has plans on the horizon for voice-activated search, including projects across a number of brands such as a possible Noted/Amazon Alexa collaboration. 

This is a community discussion forum. Comment is free but please respect our rules:

  1. Don’t be abusive or use sweary type words
  2. Don’t break the law: libel, slander and defamatory comments are forbidden
  3. Don’t resort to name-calling, mean-spiritedness, or slagging off
  4. Don’t pretend to be someone else.

If we find you doing these things, your comments will be edited without recourse and you may be asked to go away and reconsider your actions.
We respect the right to free speech and anonymous comments. Don’t abuse the privilege.

Listening to customers: Ecoware talks about the uptake of compostable packaging

  • Design
  • April 26, 2018
  • Elly Strang
Listening to customers: Ecoware talks about the uptake of compostable packaging

When Ecoware begun selling its compostable food packaging in 2011, it was a bit of an uphill slog. Words like ‘sustainability’ and ‘the circular economy’ were concepts that hadn’t quite made it into the mainstream vernacular yet, while companies were under no real pressure to change their practices to become more environmentally friendly – but times have changed in 2018. Co-founder James Calver talks the change in attitudes, as well as the changes that still need to happen.

Read more
Next page
Results for
Topics
Jobs
About

StopPress provides essential industry news and intelligence, updated daily. And the digital newsletter delivers the latest news to your inbox twice a week — for free!

©2009–2015 Tangible Media. All rights reserved.
Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our Privacy policy.

Advertise

Contact Vernene Medcalf at +64 21 628 200 to advertise in StopPress.

View Media Kit