I think the point on Amazon using alexa to drive use of its own services and products is a great one. If you ask alexa to play you music it defaults to amazon music and that is a no brainer. I wonder how Amazon will take advantage of the things alexa will do that it doesn’t already have products for. Will it use data to decide what markets to enter next, or simply move for a revenue share model for preferred providers.
This is actually a problem some mapping apps have tried to solve. Waze tries to get to “real time” traffic by using the speed that its drivers are traveling in real time to update on a more frequent basis than google maps. Waze also uses self-reporting to do this. Googles mapping function is actually worse by the method you describe Melli. This shows that the traffic data is basically being cached and therefore even less reliable.
A unique approach to solving this problem is one that leverages a currently underutilized data source. When you sit at a red light there are often sensors under the ground to know whether a car is present. This helps traffic lights determine how to operate. For example, maybe if there are no cars it will stay red for longer. However, you can use this underlying data to pull real-time traffic patterns calculating the space in time between cars passing as the average speed of those cars and a real understanding of current traffic situations.
Amazon has created a really strong value prop through their retail, cloud and increasingly their media subscriptions. They spend a ton on R&D, as you noted, to drive innovation. However, Amazon, like Google, is focused on so many long shots. Some only integrate with the business tangentially.
We tend to see an expansion and contraction cycle over time with businesses and the methodology around focus. Big conglomerates divest to focus and then little companies build themselves into big conglomerates to buy growth. I wonder where amazon is on this cycle.