Amazon is, finally, expanding Echo & Alexa internationally.
The Echo is a Wi-Fi speaker that users speak questions, commands and playback requests to, with Alexa – Amazon’s challenger to Apple’s Siri, Google’s Now and Microsoft’s Cortana – replying in kind, only now in a British accent. (…)
Amazon gives Alexa users the ability to delete the data sent to the cloud through the Amazon website. The company keeps user data within the EU, currently in Ireland.
Echo will cost £149.99 in the UK and on sale from today in either black or white and ships on 28 September. Prime customers will get a £50 discount. It will cost €179.99 in Germany by invitation only. A €50 Prime discount is also available.
As I wrote a few weeks ago in “Amazon Expects to Sell 10 Mio. Echo Devices Next Year, Probably Due to Internationalization” this move was to be expected:
Increasing the sales number threefold within a year is ambitious even when being in a market that is still in a very early stage and is going to grow for the forseeable future.
Given the new competion by Google (and maybe Apple later this year), and the fact that it is about time, it makes sense to expect Echo and Alexa going international. If those reported numbers are true they are another hint at this coming sooner rather than later.
Where could Alexa and Echo come to first? Right now, the Echo is still only available in the U.S. and only became available to Amazon customers outside Prime around in July of last year.
The obvious candidates are thus other English speaking countries like Canada, the UK and Australia.
In his interview with the Washington Post, Jeff Bezos also talked about „teams in Berlin and Seattle“ working on Echo/Alexa. So, Germany and France could be next in line.
It is no surprise that for Germans the Echo only comes with an invitation. German is the first non-English language to get Echo and Alexa. German makes sense because structurally it is rather close to English. (Though I don’t know how much that accounts for technically, it certainly would be something quite different to build Alexa for, say, Mandarin. Although this most certainly is in the works, it is not surprising that a German Echo/Alexa is ready for the market at an earlier date.)
How smooth this expansion into German, and other languages, will go, will tell us precisely what the outlook for Echo and Alexa is:
wether Amazon can pull off a successful internationalization of Alexa, next to Google’s and Apple’s already more widely internationally available voice interfaces, will be the last important point of data to assess to get a read on how strong a position Amazon will be in in a voice interface world.