Never let it be said that Amazon took a breather of any kind.
After accepting all the early year buzz about the Echo and its digital assistant, Alexa, Amazon has decided to ramp up its game with the release of a smaller, more portable version of the voice-activated desktop speaker.
About the size of a Pringles can, as described by The Wall Street Journal, it needs a wall plug and is ready to go for whatever requests one can think to yell at it. Need to know how many different toothpastes you could be buying? Alexa answers questions. Need your lights turned on? If they are smart and connected, Alexa’s got you on the mood lighting. She also plays music and makes shopping lists.
The new price point has not been disclosed, though it is expected to be lower than the $180 Echo.
The Echo has popped up as something of a surprise hit for the firm; buttressed by good reviews and happy users, the buzz has turned in the device’s favor, though exact sales figures remain unknown. The Echo has also recently seen a tech upgrade, with additional information available on demand about weather or traffic conditions, Yelp reviews, music streaming and home automation. Alexa has also been showing up in other devices, as the IoT and smart product market is starting to present an increasingly tantalizing target for vertical-hungry Amazon.
The new portable version of the Echo — codenamed “Fox” — is reportedly palm-sized and is meant to rest vertically on a tabletop. The Fox can be charged at a docking station and responds to voice commands at the push of a button (instead of always listening for its name, as Echo Classic’s version of Alexa does).
Technology firms like Amazon are drawn to voice activation because it gives consumers an easier and quicker method for searching the Web.
“It feels like you’ve got an attentive servant in the room with you,” noted Frank Gillett, a Forrester Research analyst.