Amazon has produced and marketed its own devices for years and held the product launch to create buzz for them, following Apple’s annual fall event last week. Whereas Apple’s products are known for their stylish design—and high price—Amazon’s products highlight functionality and low cost. Here are highlights from Amazon’s event:
- Alexa, everywhere—Amazon is pushing its voice-controlled software Alexa into a bunch of products and devices. That includes cars, via Echo Auto (Audi, BMW, Ford, and Toyota models will have it built-in in future models) which will help drivers with directions and traffic updates. A new wall clock that automatically adjusts between daylight savings and standard time is also on the slate.
Alexa’s new capabilities also allow it to learn more about users, including their names and favorite beverages.
- New Echo, echo, echo….The Echo—a home assistant device similar to Google Home and Apple’s HomePod—will get an upgrade. It’ll be louder, and some models (the new Echo Input) will allow connections to other speakers, effectively incorporating Alexa into home sound systems.
- The new Echo Plus will have additional features, like equalizers to tweak sound quality. It’ll also tell you the temperature. It’ll go on sale next month and cost $149.99.
- The Echo Sub—A subwoofer for the Echo will go on sale in October for $129.
- The Link—The Link and Link Amp are audio control centers that connect to your Echo(s) for further control. You can use them to control volume and choose music, and there are outputs to work with other stereo equipment.
- The Smart Plug—Remember “The Clapper”, which allowed you to control your lights by clapping your hands? Amazon’s taking the same concept, and adding Alexa into the mix. The Smart Plug will allow you to voice-control electronics.
- A microwave—Yes, you can now nuke your Hot Pocket in a voice-controlled, Amazon-branded microwave, which will be sold under the AmazonBasics brand for $59.99.
Amazon’s throwing a lot at consumers in an effort to see what sticks. The company has launched unsuccessful products before (the Fire phone, for example), and is able to easily absorb the losses given its considerable resources.
In another gamble, Amazon is also planning to open as many as 3,000 cashier-less stores by 2021. It’s another risk, given that many brick-and-mortar retailers are struggling for survival in the digital age.
It’s a bet Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos is willing to take. And if Amazon’s gamble is a success, the world is likely going to be a whole lot more connected—and louder.
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