Report: Amazon Developing High-End Echo Smart Speaker for Fall 2019
Amazon is working on a high-end Echo device for release this year according to a report from Bloomberg. The new variety of the smart speaker would come with additional features as well as a higher price tag and may be officially announced this fall when Amazon makes its new hardware announcements.
The new Echo could be designed to compete with Apple’s HomePod devices, which are generally more expensive than Echo speakers. To challenge HomePods, the new Echos will focus on improving sound quality according to the report. They will be wider than the current models in order to accommodate at least four tweeters, the speakers that determine the kind and quality of sound the device plays.
At the moment, there’s no certainty that a high-end Echo will be part of the usual set of hardware announcements Amazon makes in the autumn. Amazon already commands a good majority of the smart speaker market, at about 61 percent among smart speaker owners, compared to second-place Google at 24 percent according to the Smart Speaker Consumer Adoption Report 2019. However, much of Amazon’s marketshare lead comes from the cheaper versions of Echo.
Apple HomePod and Google Home Max make a stronger showing at the more expensive end of the market range and are known for having better quality sound than Echo devices. Voicebot’s Bret Kinsella commented on today’s news saying:
“The premium smart speaker segment is very competitive. However, it is an important segment where Amazon has a gap in its Echo portfolio. To date, Amazon has focused on getting Alexa integrated into Sonos, Harman Kardon, and Bose devices to have a position in premium smart speakers. That means Alexa’s penetration into this category is dependent on third-party manufacturers and their ability to drive sales. Adding a premium speaker to its own lineup will offer Amazon more flexibility in promotion within this segment. It raises the question about the future of Echo Sub, but appears to be a good move to shore up a product portfolio gap.”