With Amazon announcing several new Alexa-related products and integrations, it is part of their plan to make the smart home simpler, according to Blake Kozak, principal analyst at IHS Markit.
While admitting the updates will be ‘disappointing for enthusiasts’ being aimed at a less tech-savvy market, the moves do relate to their competition in the space, including SmartThings and Sonos, added Kozak.
“In the short-term, although Sonos is expected to release a digital assistant agnostic speaker (one that uses Apple Siri, Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa) and Google is expected to come out with a less expensive alternative to Google Home and announce additional partnerships, this likely won’t be enough to supplant Amazon over the next 12 months – which can currently control about 24 million smart home devices,” wrote Kozak, adding that number was approximately nine million more devices than the nearest competitor.
The latest product offerings include the redesigned Echo, Echo Plus, Echo Spot and Echo Connect.
The new redesigned Amazon Echo is a $ 99 hands-free speaker which now comes with an improved audio fidelity, thanks to the second-generation far field voice recognition ability. This comes in a more compact fabric covered form factor and interchangeable cosmetic shells. Amazon is offering buyers a $ 50 discount if they buy three Echo products at once.
The Echo Plus comes with a price tag of $ 149, and is a blend of the original Echo form factor with a ZigBee smart home hub, with a bundled Philips Hue light bulb. According to IHS Markit, The Echo Plus is an important development in its class. This is because earlier the user required the native app for setup and in some cases he/she should know the brand of the voice-controlled device, in order to control it with voice commands. But now, the user will just have to give a simple command without the need of the ‘special’ code or a brand name.
The Echo Spot ($ 129) is an eye-catching combination of the Dot and the Echo Show. It has a circular 2.5” video screen combined with small form factor. And yes, the screen is capable of video calls and displaying video clips.
Lastly, the new Echo Connect ($ 35) accessory allows Echo owners to connect their device to a landline to enable speakerphone calling functionality.
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Picture credit: Amazon