Amazon and Oprah have collaborated to promote Oprah’s Favorite Things for a few year on the Amazon web site, and this year it’s taking it a step further. Oprah is the first celebrity to lend her voice to Echo devices – but before you get too excited, you won’t be able to hear Oprah’s voice for regular commands. Alexa will still handle all the day-to-day stuff. To hear Oprah’s voice, you will need to say “Alexa, let’s shop Oprah’s favorite things”, which will prompt Oprah to suggest an item on her now-famous list and give you an explanation as to why she included the item this year. Alexa will then come back on to ask you if you’d like to purchase the item, to which you’ll be able to reply with either “yes” or “no”. If you answer in the affirmative, Alexa will go ahead and order for you, and if your response is negative, Oprah will suggest another item.
I think it’s cool that customers will get a chance to ‘chat’ with Oprah, but I don’t really see this new feature as particularly efficient – especially for holiday (or every day) shopping. First because instead of offering a choice of category, or even allowing you to ask for a specific item, you’ll need to go through each item one by one – and there are 102 items on the list this year, so it’s safe to assume that if you want to hear about them all, it’ll take some time. I’m also not sure if you can ‘pause’ where you are in the list so you can get through it in several shorter sessions, or if Oprah starts back at the beginning when you’re ready to resume your ‘shopping’.
There’s also the fact that when I’m looking for a gift (as opposed to re-ordering toilet paper or some other household item that I now well) I like to see what I’m getting. The Amazon speakers are great when you know exactly what you want, but having no visual on a potential present is a big drawback for me. Thankfully, the list is still available on Amazon’s website as well as on its app, so I won’t have to rely on my Echo to peruse Oprah’s favorite things.