Alexa has been fine. In 2017 I decided to buy one of the earlier smart speakers. At the time I would have preferred to get a Cortana enabled speaker. The Invoke speaker was something I looked into. The Invoke was designed to work with the Cortana virtual assistant from Microsoft. I owned a Windows PC, a WindowsPhone, used Microsoft services. The natural thing was to go for the Invoke.
The one problem was that the Invoke speaker was only available in the USA. It assumed US regional settings. This included things like the voice and understanding transport from the perspective of car ownership. It also didn't understand that weather should use celsius in the UK. In the long term Microsoft had no interest in smart speakers and it disappeared from sale everywhere.
Privacy worries play into this. Whatever the choice these devices will have microphones in my home. Google seemed to be cheap, privacy invasive and poor sound. So I chose Amazon 2017. For four years I would say "Alexa ...." and play music, answer search queries or just have it play a podcast. It worked fine.
The Apple home speaker product was a brilliant, expensive home speaker with a range of limitations. The Homepod was a non-starter. It was "Apple price". A premium product that was actually quite limited.
This changed in 2021. In the last couple of years I have purchased an iPhone and been happy with the Apple promises of privacy. Its not perfect, nothing is, but it has persuaded me I can trust Apple with my personal data more than Google or Amazon.
After four years was it time to put Alexa into retirement?
Apple had launched the HomePod Mini. Cheaper and looking less like a small rubbish bin. What did it sound like? I went to my nearby retail store and had a listen. This is where bricks and mortar retail stands out. The sound was good. The addition of the on device AI seemed to be an extra dimension over the Amazon speakers. The deal was done. I bought two to replace Alexa.
I am being steadily drawn into the Apple ecosystem of devices. Drawn in by the techology.