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ECommerceTimes.com

Amazon Echo: Get Your Uber Rides, Pizza Pies and Hit Music Here

By David Jones
Feb 9, 2016 3:19 PM PT
amazon-echo-uber

Amazon last week added Uber calling, Spotify listening and Domino's pizza ordering to its growing list of functions available to Echo's voice-activated speakers and Alexa software.

Users need only to ask Alexa to call an Uber or an UberX, which is one of the various levels of the Uber private car service, to get a ride.

Users can specify their location in the Alexa app's settings, then enable Uber in Alexa's skills section and either link to an existing Uber account or set up a new one. New Uber users can get US$15 off their first ride by using the 15Alexa discount code.

The Alexa Skills Kit creates "more natural, intuitive ways for customers to interact with their services," said Rob Pulciani, director of Amazon Alexa.

The additional services are the latest products of a series of recent development partnerships for Uber. The company last month announced a partnership with MedStar Health, the largest healthcare provider in the Washington, D.C., area, to help ensure reliable and convenient access for medical appointments. It also announced a partnership with Transloc, to make it easier to collaborate on public transit connections.

Easing the Uber Pathway

The Echo ordering option provides another level of convenience for Uber customers, said Kevin Krewell, an analyst at Tirias Research.

"This is another way Uber is trying to reduce the friction of calling an Uber -- no hands required," he told the E-Commerce Times.

However, "it's still best to see the driver, car type and license plate for your Uber drive," Krewell added.

"Amazon initially positioned Echo/Alexa as a sort of affordable home assistant for managing simple repetitive tasks tied to various Amazon entertainment and retail services," noted Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT, "but at CES 2016, a number of companies were leveraging Amazon's solutions as an interface for managing smart home tasks."

Smart Apps, Smart Aids

Among the potential uses for Amazon's Echo could be technology for helping consumers who lack mobility, suggested Susan Schreiner, an analyst at C4 Trends.

"This is an important first step in terms of not only convenience but for other uses -- including, for instance, as an aid for an aging parent who might fall and needs help or needs to go to the hospital," she told the E-Commerce Times. "The implications of adding speech has the potential to be huge."

Amazon has been leveraging the Echo to help automate tasks involving everything from smart home applications to smart cars. Ford announced plans last month to link its Sync technology with Alexa voice command services to let drivers manage everything from fuel levels to vehicle location. The integration also will let users use the Alexa voice commands through the Amazon Echo speaker at home.

Amazon previously tested home delivery of packages with Uber.

"Given Amazon's longevity and its reach into numerous consumer markets, the company can successfully position itself as a universal partner for smart home applications of every kind," Pund-IT's King told the E-Commerce Times. "That includes automated Uber ride hailing -- but it will likely extend to every facet of the smart home, including security, home entertainment, kitchen and diet management, calendar and scheduling."


David Jones is a freelance writer based in Essex County, New Jersey. He has written for Reuters, Bloomberg, Crain's New York Business and The New York Times.


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