how amazon built the echo

The Echo, originally called the Flash, has a captivating origin story. (Or at least captivating to yours truly, who is also knee deep in the consumer electronics development process.)

From scope creep impacting the BOM:

As originally conceived, the Echo was simpler and cheaper than the speaker in its current form. One person who worked on the project remembers that the company expected to be able to manufacture the devices for about $17 and sell them for $50. It now costs $180, and Amazon is believed to take a loss on each sale, once packaging, shipping, and marketing are factored in.

To scheduling issues:

Even as these fundamental changes went on, the lab’s leadership was convinced the speaker was almost ready. For three consecutive years, the product was expected to ship within six months.

And all the politics present while trying to be the innovative new product team in a large company:

“We spent so much time trying to anticipate what Jeff would do or say, and read into little words he would say in meetings,” said one former employee. “It would lead to so much additional work.”

Well worth the read.