Alexa is likely to be the most important name in the business this year. During the 2017 Christmas season, the Echo Dot device was the top-selling product on Amazon, bringing Alexa into millions more living rooms. Software, electronics and appliance companies are quickly building Alexa compatibility to stay relevant. If Amazon's Alexa continues to expand its market dominance, the lack of such compatibility could be a disaster for even the biggest brands.
Amazon offers several devices that use Alexa, including Echo, Echo Dot, Echo Show and Echo Spot. Each device acts as a central nervous system in a smart home, enabling thousands of voice-activated commands and capabilities. Alexa's use in American households explodes with millions of devices being sold in 201
Alexa sales are so high for a good reason. Hundreds of products from a range of brands integrate seamlessly with Alexa, enabling voice control from light bulbs to washing machines. This connectivity allows customers to create their own smart home as needed. The amazing number of compatible devices separates Alexa from other AIs (such as Siri and Google Assistant), and the growth rate in the AI market could drive brands that do not integrate with Alexa into the dust.
Smart Home Tech  Alexa's rapid success has led almost every major brand to include a Wi-Fi-enabled smart device. Businesses from every corner of the home appliance market are competing for compatibility with Alexa's growing list of over 15,000 skills.
Larger devices are one of the big surprises in the smart home market. Many brands have not expected that customers want more conversation from their refrigerator, but the success of early adopters like Samsung has quickly set a trend in the market. Today, devices of all types are Wi-Fi enabled and can be seamlessly integrated into an echo hub, and all signs point to an expanding market in 2018.
Alexa also brings some common household appliances with a few advantages. With Alexa you can start the dryer just before work and preheat the oven while you relax on the couch. Alexa can even maintain refills on traditional home products like dishwashing detergent and dryer sheets – about 90 percent of echo owners are also Amazon Prime members.
Amazon, Google, and Netflix are struggling for first place in video streaming services, and this growing audience calls for other entertainment giants from cable and satellite TV. Last year, Amazon announced in February that music streaming on Amazon devices had tripled and video-on-demand streaming was "9x yoy". Alexa's popularity as an entertainment hub is driving more and more users away from traditional services and large investments by streaming giants are keeping up with public demand.
Cable companies usually see the writing on the wall. Dish Network now offers Alexa compatibility on its Hopper DVR and Wally receiver and carves a niche with smart home users. Comcast still has no compatibility built in, but users need to jump through the rings using third party remote controls.
Amazon has no problems sharing the room with TV veterans. The company has added several new Alexa tools for compatibility with cable companies, but it's up to companies to integrate the technology into their devices. Cable users who can not integrate their TV services with Alexa cut off the cable. It's a win-win scenario for Amazon – and life or death for cable companies.
The Next AI Battlefield
Despite Alexas dominance in the smart home market, Apple's Siri and Google's assistant remain the leaders in the smartphone and computer market. Amazon takes notice, and the release of the HTC U11 with built-Alexa signals the next big competition arena for the AI giants.
Google and Apple are not leaving without a fight, and by 2018 the year could be a new frontrunner emerges. On the HTC U11, Google Assistant works right next to Alexa, allowing users to freely choose between them. In the meantime, Google and Apple are rapidly expanding their smart home offerings.
Google's assistant is the most advanced in AI development; natural language skills and the ability to answer follow-up questions puts it at the forefront of the usability ladder. The Google Home intelligent loudspeaker is compatible with some devices and devices in almost every category and has IFTTT programming routine services.
Apple also catching up. The new HomePod loudspeaker uses what it considers to be the best sound quality on the market, and is entering the entertainment market to compete with Alexa. Even Microsoft has entered the competition with a new Harman Kardon loudspeaker equipped with its AI.
With the top brands that are embracing the evolution of home automation, Wi-Fi connections are becoming as common as power cords on home appliances. Innovations in the AI market could help brands outperform their competitors, while late users are facing extinction in the face of the Internet of Things.
Allie Shaw is a freelance writer writing for PopSugar, SWAAY and WebDesignerDepot.