Could Home Speakers Resurrect Landlines?
A landline revival could be right around the corner.
According to The Wall Street Journal, Amazon and Google are considering adding voice-calling features to their Echo and Home speakers.
The Journal stated, “Amazon’s Echo or the Google Home could be used to make or receive calls, people familiar with the matter said, a functionality that would give them further control over consumers’ digital lives at home.”
The feature, which could be rolled out as early as this year, must first overcome concerns about privacy, telecom regulations and emergency services.
Customer anxiety about the speakers’ abilities to record phone calls could potentially be one of the biggest roadblocks to adaption. The Echo and Google Home speakers are always on and continuously record audio locally in chunks of a few seconds at a time. These chunks are overwritten until an activation word (e.g., “Alexa”) is used.
An unnamed source told the Journal that if Amazon were to add a phone feature, the only information collected would be the call’s metadata (how long the conversation lasted, what numbers were dialed, etc...) and not the conversations themselves.
Google, which already has its own telephone service Google Voice, would potentially have a shorter road to "landline dominance" than Amazon.
Both companies, however, have the potential to disrupt the market owned by traditional telecom providers like Verizon and AT&T by moving the market away from smartphones and putting it into new territory.