Forget the WAR ON CHRISTMAS and whatever color the Starbucks holiday cup is this year. Big tech is coming for your Christmas tree in a blinking, multi-colored display of just how far we’ve come from the notion of carrying an axe out into the woods.
Mr. Christmas — look out, ladies — is a line of holiday products available on Amazon, and the centerpiece of those offerings is a 7-foot, Alexa-enabled fake tree that turns on and off and changes light colors and patterns with simple voice commands.
People magazine said “the future is now for Christmas lovers” in describing the $299 tree that keeps selling out on Amazon. Christmas past and present would like a word, People.
Meant to look like a Douglas fir, the tree has 1,750 flame-retardant adjustable tips to enhance its realistic look. And there are 13 lighting functions from 400 low-voltage LED lights. A video in one customer review of the product shows a man running Alexa and Mr. Christmas through the selection of lighting options — red, green, yellow, blue, purple, white, multi-color, multi-fade, multi-twinkle, multi-sparkle, candy cane and snowflakes.
The only thing missing is one of those seizure-trigger warnings for people with photosensitive epilepsy, like the one on this Kanye West video for “All of the Lights.”
The tree comes with a built-in power pole as well as a metal stand. It does not come with the Amazon Echo or Echo Dot or other device you’ll need to control everything.
The National Christmas Tree Association, with a web site URL that lets everyone know what it thinks of fake (Christmas tree) news — realchristmastrees.org — says there are approximately 25-30 million real Christmas trees sold in the U.S. every year. But sales of artificial trees are on the rise, perhaps because manufactured trees look more and more like the real thing.
Alexa muscling into Christmas with her artificial (tree) intelligence is not really a surprise in homes that are already “smart” during the rest of the year. The thought of not having to string lights and deal with a mess of cords and tree needles on the floor to get stuff plugged in or turned on and off is actually quite appealing. Cycling through a disco-club-worthy selection of lighting options may be a little over the top, but most people who buy the Mr. Christmas tree are probably going to love that. “Lit!” the kids will say.
Amazon changed how we shop for the holidays and every other day a long time ago. For those of us who talk to our plants, it was just a matter of time before the tech giant had us talking to a fake tree.