3 Amazon Echo Products You Cannot Buy from Amazon on Cyber Monday and Why
This story is not about stock outs of the most popular Amazon Echo products of the season. This is about Echo products that are no longer available. They have disappeared; mostly quietly. The first to go was Amazon’s third smart speaker model, Echo Tap. It was a portable smart speaker with an onboard battery. Originally, it was push-button-to-wake only but a 2017 software update enabled it to also wake by voice. That wasn’t enough to keep the Tap in production. Nor did this product category see success elsewhere. The Google Assistant-powered JBL Link 10 and 20 models were constantly on discount from their launch.
Bye Bye Echo Spot
A more recent retirement is Echo Spot. The second smart display introduced by Amazon in September 2017, it was clear from the beginning that it was designed for the nightstand. In response to a question about Spot’s future, an Amazon spokesperson told Voicebot by email,
Yes, customer responses to the Echo Spot has been incredibly positive and we’ve sold out.
Now that’s an interesting way to phrase the planned discontinuation of a product. There is still a product page for the Spot but don’t expect that to last too much longer. The Echo Tap page was eventually removed entirely after a time with the notice, “Currently unavailable. We don’t know when or if this item will be back in stock.” Echo Spot’s Amazon page now has the very same notice.
Voicebot pointed out the likelihood of this scenario back in May with the introduction of the Echo Show 5. The diminutive stature of the 5.5-inch display suggested it was also tailor-made for the bedroom nightstand. Amazon didn’t need two products for this use case and there were multiple reasons to part ways with the Echo Spot.
The Spot carried a higher selling point than Echo Show 5 and likely a higher manufacturing cost due to its semi-spherical housing and circular display. Amazon wanted to be in a position to sell for less than Google Nest Hub and Lenovo Smart Clock so these were important considerations. Second, the circular display was difficult to get images to render well which undermined the user experience. That also caused frustration with developers which didn’t want yet another variant on the smart display side.
So, Echo Spot is gone; despite being loved.
Will We Gaze Upon Echo Look Once More?
When asked about Echo Look, the Amazon spokesperson wrote back simply, “Echo Look has not been discontinued.” However, you still cannot buy the device and it has the same, “we don’t know when or if this item will be back in stock,” notice on its still available product page. In the image above, you may note that there were 457 ratings from Amazon shoppers as of the end of November 2019. That is 4% as many ratings as Echo Spot racked up. And, its average user rating is 3.8-stars compared to 4.3-stars for Echo Spot.
We can surmise from this Echo Look is not as popular as the discontinued Spot. However, there is no device waiting to replace Echo Look in the lineup. And, Echo Look has nice synergy with Amazon’s rapidly growing apparel business due to its “style check” and obvious tie-ins with online shopping. So, it might be true that it is not discontinued…or half true.
I suspect Echo Look will return with a different look. That manifestation will most likely be a smart display. Today, users must open their mobile app to see the picture just taken or get information about wardrobe suggestions from Echo Look. That doesn’t exactly break the dependence on smartphones that voice assistants are expected to deliver. Echo Show devices already have displays and all they might need is a camera upgrade and the ability to include a flash to fully replace the Look. In addition, Amazon can sell smart displays at higher volumes which helps keep the manufacturing cost down while also providing users with a more robust device that includes a screen.
Amazon’s Product Strategy
You should expect to see more Echo and Alexa products discontinued in the coming years. An Amazon executive acknowledged to me in 2018 that there is a clear strategy to launch products that might fill a consumer need and see how they do in sales. If they sell well, like the Alexa microwave, they will stick around. If not, the will be sent out to pasture. And, even if they sell well, other considerations might lead to their replacement in the Echo portfolio. Yes. that’s for you Echo Spot. By making a number of small bets on different products, Amazon creates the opportunity for a big win and minimizes its downside if consumers don’t respond favorably enough to justify further selling efforts.