Netgear Launches Orbi Voice Smart Speaker WiFi System with Alexa
Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups are the best selling candy in the United States. They are made up of peanut butter encased in milk chocolate. The product’s famous tag line from a 1970’s advertising campaign was “two great tastes that taste great together.” I was thinking of that slogan when I first read about Netgear’s new Orbi Voice smart speaker. The company’s promotion video uses the voice angle as an excuse for Orbi Voice to speak in the first person and delivers a line that leads to a direct comparison of Reese’s advertising.
I’m a premium combination of smart speaker and WiFi mesh system.
Killing Two Birds with One Stone
Netgear controls nearly 50% of the U.S. WiFi wireless router market and the company is looking for ways to complement its popular line of devices with higher value offerings. Nearly every home is going to have a WiFi router. And, many analysts predict about half of U.S. households will have a smart speaker by 2020. Orbi Voice lets you kill two birds with one stone so to speak.
Orbi Voice serves as a mesh WiFi hub that works with the Orbi Home Mesh WiFi router. In this regard, Orbi Voice is designed to enhance your WiFi coverage into new corners of the home. It also includes Alexa so it operates similar to an Amazon Echo. A key difference is the price. Netgear enlisted Harman Kardon to create the audio system which doesn’t come cheap. Plus, there is the cost of adding the mesh networking components. Orbi Voice is priced today on Amazon for $299.99 on its own or $429.99 with the Orbi router.
Today, you can only pre-order Orbi Voice combined with the mesh WiFi router. It is expected to ship on September 21st. Netgear is accepting a wait list for consumers that wish to purchase Orbi Voice alone. It is not clear that Orbi Voice can operate without the benefit of an Orbi WiFi router, but there are likely existing Orbi device owners that would like to add the smart speaker to their existing device stack.
Putting Alexa into Household Devices
There has been a lot of chatter about Amazon’s slowing share of smart speakers sales based on two quarterly reports by Canalys. And yet, Amazon announced over the weekend at IFA that it is compatible with more than 20,000 devices. Most of these devices are only compatible with Alexa skills, but an increasing number have Alexa inside. It is a manifestation of Amazon’s “Alexa everywhere” strategy and means Amazon isn’t reliant on Echo smart speaker sales alone to increase Alexa’s presence.