Amazon is making its Echo voice-enabled smart speakers available for purchase in more than 80 countries, but will only ship to the countries via Amazon.com.
According to a news report in Venture Beat, Amazon is only selling the Echo devices from Amazon.com, with no local versions of Alexa or the Alexa Skills Kit available in French, Spanish, Swedish, Polish or Dutch. Users around the world who purchase the device will only be able to talk with Alexa in English, German or Japanese.
That limitation is a big change for Amazon, which had the Echo localized for the U.K. and Germany when it rolled it out in those countries. When the Echo arrived in Japan, users were able to have conversations with Alexa in Japanese, and developers were given access to the Alexa Skills Kit and Alexa Voice Service in Japanese. In India, the Echo arrived in English, but that is an official language of the country, noted the report.
With the market for smart speakers heating up and forecasted to reach $13 billion by 2024, companies are rushing to get their products out in front of consumers, which could have prompted Amazon to move ahead of having localized versions of the device. As the report noted, teaching Alexa to understand and speak new languages is difficult and time-consuming, and it simply wouldn't be practical to have Alexa speak every language in every country where it launches. It doesn’t hurt that Christmas is just around the corner, prompting Amazon to expand availability around the globe.
While Amazon is in a lot of new markets with the Echo, the report noted that it's still not available in Argentina, Brazil, France, Italy, Spain, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and many other markets.