In a move to take on Apple’s wireless earbud dominance, Amazon is planning to make its own version with Alexa capability, according to a report by Bloomberg.
The company is preparing to release earbuds with built-in Alexa functionality, possibly by the end of this year. They will look like AirPods, but Amazon is reportedly aiming for better audio quality. The wireless buds will be designed to stay in the ear without any clips.
The potential product is a high priority for the company and its Lab126 hardware division, according to Bloomberg’s sources. The company is also said to be hard at work on a home robot with Alexa capability, code-named Vesta.
Customers will be able to use the devices to ask Alexa questions listen to music or order products from Amazon. There are also plans for physical gesture controls, like tapping to perform certain actions.
Although Amazon has not released price points, but Bloomberg pointed out the eCommerce company typically attempts to undercut competitors. Apple AirPods are priced between $159 and $199.
The new product would be a departure from Amazon’s typical home-targeted products. While it did offer a Fire smartphone in 2015, the product flopped. Echo speakers, however, became a huge hit for the company and brought Alexa into millions of homes around the world.
The main thing holding back Amazon’s product growth is its lack of a mobile phone or operating system. Apple and Google, on the other hand, have built-in audiences for their respective digital assistants.
Amazon’s earbuds will have to pair with a phone for use, which would mean working with other companies and could cause strategic issues between Apple and Google.
Like Apple’s offerings, the buds will come with a charging case. They will be available in either black or gray.
Earbuds are one of the fastest-growing category of wearables, with 12.5 million pairs sold in Q4 of last year. Apple’s offering commands 60 percent of the market, according to Counterpoint Research.