Several countries as well as individual states in the USA have begun easing pandemic-related restrictions, but some habits that people adopted to help them through the lockdowns may have become entrenched, according to a senior Amazon executive.

In an interview with Protocol, Marc Whitten, Amazon's VP of entertainment devices and services, revealed that what people are asking their devices to do for them has changed dramatically over the past few months.

“We’re seeing a lot of usage across our devices, whether that’s Echo and Alexa devices or Fire TV, or tablets or readers,” he said. “And it’s interesting because we’re seeing more users on the devices, we’re seeing them come back to the devices more frequently, and we’re seeing them use them for more hours. So, their intensity is higher.”

Examples include usage of Fire TV, Amazon’s home digital media player, which Whitten said was up “very, very significantly” with viewers keen to access streaming services, such as Prime Video, Netflix and Hulu.

But homebound activity hasn’t been limited to entertainment because usage of education apps on Fire TV has increased 400%, while exercise and meditation app usage has grown by between 200% and 300%.

“One of the other areas that’s interesting is family-friendly content viewing. That, as a category itself, is indexing up 40+% higher than it was,” Whitten added. “And so we’re seeing people find ways that these devices can be more useful for them when they lose a bunch of their other options.”

Whitten emphasised in his interview that he was as keen as everyone to get back to normal, but he also noted that “we’re witnessing a variety of perhaps more durable changes as customers experience some new things”.

Fire TV, for example, has “probably accelerated cord cutting” by about a year, he said, while the experience of having to work from home probably will induce greater flexibility in the workforce, such as making more productive use of tablets and voice-activated devices like Amazon Echo.

“We’ve seen people trying that, and I expect we’ll continue to see them try even after things return to a new normal,” he said.

Sourced from Protocol; additional content by WARC staff