CNBC Says Amazon Will Launch 8 New Alexa-Enabled Devices in 2018
CNBC is reporting that Amazon “plans to release at least 8 new voice-controlled hardware devices before the end of the year.” According to CNBC, the information was gleaned from an internal Amazon document but it is not clear whether the news organization actually reviewed the document. Amazon declined to comment on the news. The article goes on to report:
“The devices include, among others, a microwave oven, an amplifier, a receiver, a subwoofer, and an in-car gadget, people familiar with the matter said. All of the devices will be Alexa-enabled, meaning they can easily connect to the voice assistant. Some of the devices will also have Alexa built in.”
Expanding Amazon’s Alexa Product Portfolio
Amazon has at least 3,500 partners that are building devices compatible with Alexa. Those products range from smart speakers, media players and headphones to home appliances, sprinkler systems and just about every other type of gadget you thought should be dumb, mechanical and disconnected. But, do you realize how many Alexa-enabled products Amazon produces? Amazon’s portfolio of Alexa compatible devices has grown quickly.
Most people are familiar with the smart speaker collection which includes the Echo, Echo Dot, Echo Dot Kid’s Edition and Echo Plus. Then there are the smart displays Echo Show and Echo Spot. I’m not quite sure how to characterize the Echo Look, but it falls somewhere in this category as well if for no other reason, the naming convention.
Then there is the less-than-cleverly named Show Mode Charging Dock for Fire HD tablets which transforms them into Echo Show-like devices. As we move into core multi-media products, there is the Fire TV Stick and Fire TV Cube and a new line of Fire TVs. You can start to see how a subwoofer, amplifier and receiver might complement this media arsenal. Amazon has the opportunity to do for the home what Apple did for personal computing by providing a broad portfolio of devices that are all seamlessly integrated. Apple did it using iOS. Amazon is using Alexa as the glue.
Channel Conflict or Just Solid Business Strategy
Shall we go on? Amazon purchased Ring earlier this year and has made an investment in ecobee through the Alexa fund. Is it that big of a leap to get into other appliances such as microwaves? That seems further away from Amazon’s core, but certainly isn’t an outlandish idea given the company’s other moves toward vertical integration.
Will this create channel conflict? There is little doubt that Alexa partners will see this as threatening as Amazon becomes a direct competitor in their product categories. This could be seen as the appliances version of Amazon basics. You might also recall how earlier this year Nest products were removed from Amazon as collateral damage from a dispute with Google. These were seemingly replaced overnight by more prominence for Ring and ecobee devices. However, Amazon has become such an important sales channel that few of these companies will be able to quit the channel entirely.
CNBC reports that we should know more soon about these eight or more new products designed to showcase Alexa’s prowess. Let us know on Twitter what Alexa-powered device you would like Amazon to bring to market.