Hands-Free Alexa Feature Turns Fire 7 Tablet into a $50, Portable Echo Show

Today Amazon launched the latest version of its best-selling Fire 7 Tablet which has not been revamped since 2017. The eight generation of the tablet features faster processors, more storage and a better camera than its predecessor. But the most noteworthy update is that the new version includes a hands-free Alexa feature. Amazon’s voice assistant has been on Fire tablets for years, but it wasn’t until the launch of the Fire HD 10 two years ago that Alexa could be called upon without having to wake or touch the device. Amazon did bring a “hands-free Alexa” via a software update to Fire 7 and 8 tablets last year, but the device had to be awake or plugged in to access the feature. So hands-free, but not exactly touch-free. Now users can call on Alexa like they would with a smart speaker. No touching or swiping required.

A $50 Portable Version of the Amazon Echo Show

Adding the hands-free Alexa feature to the new version of the Fire 7 tablet essentially turns the tablet into a low-cost, portable version of the Amazon Echo Show. The Fire 7 is Amazon’s best seller according to its product page and only retails for $49.99. That is less than a fourth of the price of the second-generation Echo Show which retails for $229.99. Amazon has struggled to get consumers to buy its smart displays when you compare it to the rapid adoption of its Echo smart speakers, although it does command a healthy 67% of the market.

Introducing New Consumers to Alexa

However, the company has found success with its line of affordable Fire tablets. According to the Voicebot Smart Speaker Consumer Adoption Report, the current installed base of smart displays in the United States is around 8.7 million. When you consider that Amazon sold 7.7 million Fire tablets in Q4 2017 alone, Amazon could easily more than double Alexa’s presence on smart displays this year with the launch of its latest Fire 7 tablet.

What’s more, these could be a brand-new audience for Alexa as the tablet market is significantly larger than the smart display market. The Fire 7 update could introduce Alexa to a new group of consumers who may be looking for a new tablet and not necessarily a smart display. This could also lead to new purchases of Amazon’s other voice-first devices. At $50, Amazon is aggressively courting the lower end of the tablet market in order to increase Alexa’s audience as well the added bonus of selling more digital goods.

U.S. Smart Display User Base Grew 558% in 2018 and More Than Doubled in Second Half of the Year, Amazon Holds Two-thirds Market Share


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