Article subtitle: "The talking speaker started as part of a secret augmented-reality project and ended up as a surprise hit"
"With the Echo, Amazon has figured out a way to insert itself into customer interactions with other devices and services. Part of this is just good timing. The tech industry has been searching for the next big computing platform after mobile. Investing in some combination of voice control and artificial intelligence was prudent, especially given that no one else has quite figured it out yet. Apple, Google, and Microsoft all have their own virtual assistants, but they’ve designed them as a way to make their smartphones work better. The Echo is a bigger departure from the past.The Real Story of How Amazon Built the Echo
In a way, its success is a result of the Fire Phone failure. Since Amazon already killed off its smartphone, its voice-control efforts were bound to be focused elsewhere. And while smartphones are touted as the pinnacle of convenience, taking one out and clicking an app to find out the weather while buttoning your shirt actually seems rather work-intensive compared with just yelling the question across the room."