A century ago, the home telephone quite literally altered the way that people communicated with one another. The ability to instantly touch a few numbers and get connected with someone hundreds or thousands of miles away was an absolute game-changer. The narrative around the home telephone has changed dramatically in the last five to 10 years with the proliferation of smartphones, but the in-home telecommunications device is still hanging in there—just under 50 percent of homes still have a landline, according to a 2017 report. But SGW Global, through its licensing deal with Motorola, has a plan to bring the home phone back into the conversation.
At IFA 2018, the company will show off a brand new Motorola wireless home phone that ships with one-touch access to the Amazon Alexa voice assistant service. The new home phone (which sounds like an oxymoron in 2018) will come with a dedicated Alexa button right on it that gives the user easy access to Amazon's skillful digital assistant. And there appears to be no limit to what Alexa will be able to do through the new Motorola home phone.
According to a brief statement emailed to Dealerscope, SGW Global explained that users will be able to perform basic functions like asking Alexa to make a phone call, to making Alexa to Alexa calls by asking her to call "Rob's Echo" for example. Additionally, you'll be able to control your other Alexa-enabled smart home products, add items to your shopping list, call for a cab, and more. Pretty much ever 'Works with Alexa' skill will be at the user's disposal through the wireless home phone.
The idea of bringing Alexa to the home phone seems almost logical at this point, but at the same time it's also a unique move. A consumer may not want to place an Echo speaker in every room in their home because, if anything else, they may just not want to own that many speakers. By putting Alexa in a home phone, they're able to extend their access to the service through a product that does typically reside in multiple rooms. So now, while you've got an Echo in the kitchen, you can still access Alexa in the bedroom, living room, and your office. And the Alexa-to-Alexa communication is a unique wrinkle that essentially gives the user a home intercom system.
On the flip side of this, adding Alexa to the home phone feels like a last ditch effort to create excitement around a product category that has been on the decline for years. Because we're already carrying around (and paying for) a phone that we keep within arms reach all of the time, having a home phone almost feels redundant in this day and age. This kind of announcement and product launch comes off as a half-baked attempt to get a younger consumer to look towards the home phone market. Whether they actually do, we'll just have to wait and see.