Mike George, VP/Echo, Alexa, and Appstore at Amazon, discussed this subject during a session at TechCrunch's Disrupt NY 2016 conference.
And he reported that one important component of Echo's appeal rests on its ability to fulfil tasks like playing music, creating shopping lists and even re-ordering certain products with a simple vocal command from up to 25 feet away.
"My take – and this is both from personal experience with the product and with what we hear from customers – is it's largely about the far-field voice capability," he said. (For more, including further details about use cases for this product, read Warc's exclusive report: How Amazon's Echo meets – and reshapes – consumer needs.)
More specifically, a user only needs to say "Alexa", the "wake word" which alerts the Echo to an incoming request, then issue an instruction in natural language. Between one and two seconds later, the device delivers the required response.
George explained that this type of interface has thus "taken something that historically you would have to pull a computer to do, or a phone or a tablet" and made it far easier.
"You've removed all that mechanical stuff and let people use one of the more natural interfaces that they have – their voice – from up to 25 feet away and just say, 'What's the weather?'" he continued.
"I think it's that simplification of things you've had to do historically that people are really excited about."
Having undertaken a basic set-up process, users can also manage relatively complex activities, such as controlling smart home devices like thermostats.
"While that's happening, it's doing a lot of technical things that you don't feel," George said.
Although Amazon does not release sales figures for the Echo, he suggested the customer feedback left on its ecommerce hub offers a clear indicator of success.
"You can get a sense for how it's selling and how well it's doing by the reviews. Echo itself has over 36,000 reviews right now, [and] a 4.5-rating. And I think a third of the reviews reference the word 'love'. It's really resonating with the customer base," said George.
Data sourced from Warc