Last minute shoppers will not be able to put a new Amazon Echo or Dot under the tree this year if they waited until this week. As of yesterday, both the Echo and Dot are showing ship dates after Christmas. You can get a Dot delivered sometime after December 27th when the new stock arrives. The original Echo tower is on backorder until January 21st. Echo has been a surprise consumer hit in 2016 and exceeded all analyst estimates. The introduction of the sub $50 (now discounted $40) Echo Dot in the fall was clearly a move to drive user volume. The consistent holiday shopping season discounting of the Echo tower to $139 appears designed to remain competitive with the Google Home price of $129.
As of the this morning Google Home is still available in online stores from Google, Best Buy, Target, Walmart and Verizon. Also, local Best Buy, Target and Walmart stores appear to have stock available for in-store pick-up. That doesn’t necessarily mean that Google Home is less popular with holiday shoppers than the Amazon Echo line. It could simply be that the company ordered more units to ensure availability.
Amazon Didn’t Want Scarcity – They Want Users
However, Amazon has considerably more sales experience in this category and it is sold out. I’m sure the product line managers would like to be shipping last minute orders as of today. Just look at the Echo television ad buys in Q4. No one in the voice assistant space wants to give up the opportunity to become the first device used and embraced by a consumer. Inventory stock-outs mean some consumers will go for the available Google Home alternative even if they had an initial preference for an Echo. That could be a consumer lost forever to a competitor.
My assumption is that Amazon will have robust Echo sales numbers for Q4 that exceed analyst expectations by a significant margin and apparently exceeded demand projections by Echo inventory planners as well.