The Wall Street Journal reports that Amazon is going to release a new portable Version of its Echo Speaker:
In the coming weeks, Amazon expects to release a smaller, portable version of its voice-activated tabletop Echo speaker, building off the device’s surprise success since it was released in November 2014, according to people familiar with the plans.
The new device is code named “Fox,” they added. (..)
The new portable device is expected to sell at a lower price than the $180 Echo in part to attract more buyers, these people said.
Echo/Alexa is constantly evolving, getting new features almost every week. Which is to say: In a very short amount of time Amazon managed to create a rich voice interface platform.
A less expensive version increases the platform reach (like the Fire stick does for the Fire TV platform), which itself helps build up the multi-sided platform on top. (third-parties developing apps etc. are only drawn to a platform if it has enough end users)
Additionally, voice recognition gets better the more input the system can process and hence learn from. More users interacting with Echo, or more generally the Alexa voice interface, the better the whole system becomes for everyone. So this makes already a lot of sense. But there is another angle long-term. The Wall Street Journal:
Unlike the Echo, which must always be plugged in to listen for voice commands, Fox can be charged on a docking station and responds to voice command only by pushing a button, a necessary compromise to preserve battery life.
Doesn’t this sound an aweful lot like a smartphone? Like, for example, Siri on an iPhone?
This portable version of Echo might be the first iteration of Amazon’s next attempt at the smartphone market after its Fire Phone flopped phenomenally. After all, once people use your portable voice operated device at home, why not add cellular connectivity and a touch screen to the next model?
It will be very interesting to see how exactly Amazon is going to present this device at launch.
More on Amazon’s Echo/Alexa platform:
- Why Ford and Others Are Going to Integrate Amazon Echo/Alexa
- Echo is just like a store for Amazon & third-party retailers help spreading it now
- Amazon Echo keeps adding functionalities, becoming a strong platform
- Amazon doubling down on hardware, talks about it endlessly in earnings release
- Amazon’s Alexa Fund Invests in Smart Home Communication Device Triby