The original Amazon Echo is currently out of stock on the online retail giant’s website — a possible sign that the arrival of a new voice-activated smart speaker is imminent.
According to news from TechCrunch, the original Amazon Echo just made its Whole Foods debut this week, with Amazon creating displays for selling the voice-activated personal assistant Alexa-powered Echo smart speaker in select locations. Some of the signage calls the device “farm fresh” and the “pick of the season.”
But the smart assistant is long overdue for an upgrade after going mostly untouched since entering the market two years ago. In fact, it’s been reported that Amazon is working on improving the Echo in an effort to compete with Apple’s HomePod, which is coming out later this year. The redesigned Echo will not only be shorter and slimmer than its predecessor, but also have rounded edges and a cloth-like covering. In addition, the sound of the speaker will be improved, several tweeters will be included instead of just one large tweeter and woofer and the microphone technology will be enhanced.
While this isn’t the first time the Echo has gone out of stock, there are signs that a new device is on the horizon to go head-to-head with Apple’s HomePod. Amazon has also been offering the smart speaker at a discount more frequently, slashing the price in half for Prime Day and taking $70 off as part of its Whole Foods debut.
The Dot, Amazon Tap and Kindle devices are all on sale through Sep. 4, allegedly as part of the company’s “back to school” sale, but the devices are reportedly selling at the same Amazon discount price whether buyers are students or not.