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In less than a year, Amazon's combination of the Echo speaker system and the Alexa voice-controlled digital assistant has come close to delivering on the elusive promise of easy-to-use technology that can control gadgets in the home with a few spoken words. Yet Amazon.com's surprise success sets up a long-term battle with Apple (aapl, +0.13%) and...

Since debuting last year, Amazon’s Alexa virtual assistant—a voice-controlled helper that answers questions, plays music on command, and orders diapers—has only been available in Amazon devices. To use it, people needed one of Amazon’s Echo home automation devices, the Fire TV for streaming video, or an Amazon tablet. But on Wednesday, GE Lighting...

Vice chair Beth Comstock has an ungainly portfolio but a simple mission: infusing the future into a venerable company. Silicon Valleyentrepreneur Eric Ries didn’t know what to think when Beth Comstock approached him at a publication party for his book, The Lean Startup, and said she wanted to talk. She was General Electric’s GE -2.16% chief...