052 - Brian Roemmele - Amazon’s Hardware Announcements: Keys to the Castle - Pt. 1

Echo Buds, Echo Frames, Echo Loop, and more new products take Alexa to new fields: what does it mean? Brian Roemmele is known as the Oracle of Voice for a reason. Over decades he has predicted so many things that came true. The brilliance of these new products like Echo Loop is about getting Amazon into the castle without fighting for spaces that are already occupied, like the wrist or the pocket.

1-click listen anywhere:

About Our Guest:

Brian Roemmele is the recognized world authority on how voice AI will impact computing and commerce. Over arc of his career, Brian has built and run payments and tech businesses, worked in media, including the promotion of top musicians, and explored a variety of other subjects along the way. He has been published in Forbes, Huffington Post, Newsweek, Slate, Business Insider, Daily Mail, Inc, Gizmodo, Medium, and is an exclusive Quora top writer. He hosts Around the Coin (earliest crypto currency podcast), Breaking Banks Radio and more, discussing everything from Bitcoin to Voice Commerce.

Brian created the Multiplex app and Multiplex Magazine, a way to stay on top of everything important in technology, payments and just about anything else. He has taken the stage at Money 20/20, ETA Transact and many private events as a speaker on the future of Voice Commerce.

Companies don’t patent things just because.

A big theme of this episode is getting out of the weeds of the technical features and instead looking at better ways to get work done. Think big picture. We are looking at the beginnings of new use cases in brand new paradigms.

When you paradigm shift, the canvas is blank, and that’s where we are with voice.

This is Part 1 - tune back in next week to hear more! We cover branding and marketing foundations based on personas and archetypes, which will determine success tomorrow. 1-click subscribe free in your favorite podcast app now so you don’t miss it.

The idea of the app is already gone.


From Brian’s Quora article about Amazon’s Fall 2019 release and preview of products (9/25/2019):

If Echo and Alexa devices from Amazon along with the Skills ecosystem were a stand-alone company in 2019, using typical startup multiples, Echo, Inc would be worth about $500 billion dollars. This is an astounding achievement and there shows no sign that the acceleration is slowing.

Amazon Owns The Far-Field Voice First Market, Now They Are Comping For The Near-Field

Today was a next generation Amazon Alexa-themed event with Echo devices for every possible use case but most specially the near-field. I have surfaced ~32 primary Voice First modalities. Amazon is now in three:

1. Near-field - on the body

2. Mid-field - small environment

3. Far-field - open room

read more

Timestamps by topic:

  • 04:00 Amazon’s patents telegraph the future

  • 04:50 Amazon did not dominate in smartphone, obviously (Fire Phone failed - and at the time in 2014, people overlooked the first generation Amazon Echo)

  • 05:50 Smartphone is an old modality

  • 06:10 iPhone is the iconic smartphone

  • 06:30 What is the strategy to get into the castle? Content and shopping, largest merchant on planet

  • 07:10 “Amazon is a retailer, not a technology company” - this is why Amazon created the voice first experience first

Brian Roemmele -  @BrianRoemmele

Brian Roemmele - @BrianRoemmele

  • 07:35 Amazon does not pretend to be a tech company, they’re a company that produces technology

  • 07:50 Amazon doesn’t have mindshare yet, and that is key

  • 07:55 What happens with content and mindshare? How does content creation play in?

  • 08:30 Amazon is not going after the smartphone or smart watch (not after the wrist or the pocket

  • 09:10 Products that define new categories must be loved and hated

  • 09:30 “Talk to the hand” back in vernacular with Echo Loop

  • 10:30 Tech companies don’t consider anthropological and sociological impact of products

  • 11:10 We ask “Can we?” too often and don’t ask “Should we?” enough

  • 11:45 Brian’s thesis: Hyper Local

  • 11:55 Echo Loop (a ring) is not always on - it has a button to engage Alexa. It draws you into the Alexa ecosystem without taking away from Apple AirPods - and that is brilliant.

  • 13:20 Future of the voice assistant that you talk to like a significant other

  • 13:30 Done thumb clawing at screen - that is the future

  • 13:50 Echo Frames and Echo Loop are early versions of the ubiquitous voice future

  • 14:20 Near field computing, mid-field, and far-field (open room) - Amazon’s secret weapon over the castle wall was to get in the home (with Echo in 2014) - which became the fastest adopted consumer technology in history

  • 15:10 The tech leap happened organically with consumers from kitchen to living room - Amazon is doing the same strategy again to get people to adopt this in the near field

  • 15:50 People mocked the iPad (menstrual pad?) and look what happened - these products have to be hated or mocked

  • 16:30 iPhone was laughed at because it didn’t have a keyboard. What is past is prologue. We always see the future through the glasses of right now and the past - always view the future through the rearview mirror:

  • 16:40 We defined the new in the words of the old, e.g.: the horseless carriage, flameless candle, talking pictures.

  • 17:50 Most voice first experts have nothing to do with the technology world, which irritates folks in tech

  • 18:45 Computing is not what it was for the last sixty years, and it will not continue to be what is has been the last twenty - think about this for typing and interacting

  • 18:55 Technology gets bigger and bigger until it disappears (e.g. you don’t talk about your carburetor, you just buy a car that works or Jobs saying RAM doesn’t matter, you will only care what the computer does or accomplishes)

  • 21:35 There are no killer applications for voice. “Apps?” That’s 2D. (Check out our interview with Dave Isbitski, Chief Evangelist of Alexa, where we concluded the same thing)

  • 21:55 So what are people really looking for with voice?

  • 22:30 "The idea of the app is already gone.” - Brian

  • 23:40 The intimate relationship that technology can and will spawn is the killer app. We can’t see that world clearly yet

  • 24:50 We’re not battling on the grounds defined by prior technologies

  • 25:10 We’ve only seen 4 of the 175 modalities that voice first works in

  • 25:50 Amazon’s brilliance is great utility to an existing ecosystem (Alexa)

Echo Buds ( pre-order Echo Buds for $129.99  <— this link helps support the show!)

Echo Buds (pre-order Echo Buds for $129.99 <— this link helps support the show!)

  • 25:00 Amazon doesn’t expect Echo Buds to replace Apple AirPods

  • 27:20 Echo Buds isolate noise and incorporate multiple VAs like Google and Siri

  • 27:30 AirPods are a cultural phenomenon about fashion as much as sound- that is why they won’t be easily replaced by Echo Buds

  • 28:05 Brand signaling with AirPods, or whatever product comes next- that is human

  • 28:30 Loop and Frames are wise moves

  • 29:10 AOL move to open AOL Mail to internet mail is similar to Buds move to open to other VAs

  • 29:40 Amazon subsidies for Buds and Amazon Music. Music is a commodity - supplier does not matter.

  • 30:10 When you stream music, that streaming service makes almost nothing (e.g. Apple, Google, Spotify) - loss leader. The strategy is about attention, narrative, communication with the customer.

  • 30:50 See: Prime. Brilliant. Long term relationship.


With Trinity Audio, publishers and bloggers can turn their readers into listeners by turning their written content into lifelike speech. All it takes is a short snippet of code to audio-fy your website. Get started for free at trinityaudio.ai.

Connect with Brian Roemmele:

044 - Paying Voice Talent, Junk Alexa Skills, and Business Integrity - Melanie Scroggins

I spoke with Austin-based professional voice actor Melanie Scroggins, Owner of Melanie Scroggins Voiceover. Melanie found me based on my tweets about junk skills (Alexa skills with no content that are squatting on search terms).

Her story resonated with me because it opens the door to a larger conversation about how we value and pay talent.

For voice actors who are providing the important sonic branding that we in the voice community are effusive about, communities like SpokenLayer are underpaying freelancers to a surprising degree.

And somehow, no one is talking about it.

This hopefully serves as a conversation starter. Let’s openly discuss these things so we can create a better place for everyone, from users and customers to developers, brands, voice actors, and content creators.

We mentioned:
Here is the rate guide for GVAA (Global Voice Academy)

While this is a standard rate sheet a lot of voice actors use to rate out projects, there
actually is no end all be all. It's really up to the individual actor, but
this provides a solid foundation on which to start charging.

Connect with Melanie Scroggins:



027 - How to Make the Voice Assistant Like Your Brand

Hear how the future ubiquitous voice assistant will decide whether to promote your brand.

We spend major ad dollars on the duopoly (Google and Facebook) with Amazon a distant third. Those ad dollars will shift.

Telenav announced that it is integrating Amazon Alexa into its automotive navigation system offering.


The voice assistant we know today will be so much smarter tomorrow. 

Your shadow, your assistant:

The voice assistant will be every person’s personal assistant, their shadow, their life historian and documentarian. It will mitigate our drudge work for life admin tasks like errands and comparison shopping. It will save us all kinds of time. I hope we use that time well.

What won't change:

We are at the mercy of an algorithm today: many ecommerce retailers live and die by SEO on Google and on Amazon. Tomorrow our brands will be at the AI's mercy. The data will be richer, the algorithm more complex.

Amazon, which is nearing $800 billion in value, is making a noticeable push in advertising products, hoping to grab a piece of Google and Facebook’s duopoly of digital advertising. Voice commerce is estimated to be a $18.3 billion opportunity by 2023.

Amazon, which is nearing $800 billion in value, is making a noticeable push in advertising products, hoping to grab a piece of Google and Facebook’s duopoly of digital advertising. Voice commerce is estimated to be a $18.3 billion opportunity by 2023.

This idea of the future is not radically different from the game we play with search engines today. You bid to be at the top based on a user’s query, or you work on your content to rank high organically.

The same process will happen but with less screen, and more anticipation of the user’s needs or next purchase.

When the assistant recommends a product, it will try to match to the user’s needs, history, and preferences. Google does this today with search results. Your website gets rewarded for relevancy. Everyone tries to game the SEO algorithm but ultimately if you have great content that solves the searcher’s problems google knows it and ranks you higher. There is no silver bullet.

Up Next:

Tune in next week for episode 28: my upcoming interview with Jon Chu, an expert in voice first ecommerce and retail.

Get it on Google Play

Click to subscribe then say “OK Google, play Beetle Moment Marketing Podcast”

026 - Marketing in 2019 & Beyond: Social Media and Voice

Year-end episode. Predictions - keeping it simple, two areas of focus:

  1. Social media - tech companies and their manipulation-based business models will change. They’ll evolve in two ways: First, greater transparency that frustrated users will seek. Second, more cohesion with government (as Steve Case posits in The Third Wave).

    Facebook (including Instagram), Twitter, and LinkedIn: the revenue models are based on manipulation through constant feedback loops that surveil users (the product). This is the new fast food. Users will begin to see it as unhealthy like they do cigarettes and Big Macs.

  2. Voice marketing - why smart speakers and voice assistants are like the automobile in 1903 (famous Ford/Horace Rackham quote). Voice is not a fad.

1-minute clip:

Also mentioned:

  • 06:40 - Brian Roemmele, The Oracle of Voice re: “computerese” - Brian is spot on. 06:40

  • 08:16 - Mitch Joel (I quote Mitch re: the 1.0 state of smart speakers and how it’s like the internet before the hyperlink - hard to navigate). Spot on again.

  • Join me at The Alexa Conference on January 15-17, 2019. Get 20% off tickets with promo code: ALEXASPRK203