Amazon is Bringing Echo Auto Devices to Australia in June
Australians will soon be able to integrate Alexa voice assistant into their cars using Amazon’s Echo Auto as part of its ongoing effort to add Alexa to automobiles internationally. The company has begun pre-sales of the device in Australia for AU$79 ($51.50) and will start shipping it to customers on June 10.
The Amazon Echo Auto connects the voice assistant from a smartphone into a vehicle via a small box placed above the dashboard. Drivers can then interact with the voice assistant without needing to touch their phone. They can access all of Alexa’s usual features, as well as some unique elements specifically built for use in cars based on location. After a year of testing, the device debuted in the U.S. in October with more than a million pre-orders. Amazon almost immediately started working on international deployment, announcing at CES in January that it would begin selling Echo Autos in India that month. The decision to start with India likely had to do with the rising number of vehicles with voice assistants and Alexa’s ability to speak Hindi.
Amazon had said at the time it had other countries on its list for selling Echo Autos, but has been coy about its schedule. As has happened with every business, the COVID-19 outbreak likely delayed or altered Amazon’s plans for the Echo Auto. This isn’t Amazon’s only addition to Alexa’s presence in Australia this month, either. The Alexa Developer Rewards program opened in both Australia and New Zealand earlier in May, enabling Alexa developers to collect money from Amazon if they’re voice apps become popular. They can also get cash for making an Alexa app that does well in several other countries too.
Bringing the Echo Auto to Australia serves the two related goals for Amazon of increasing Alexa’s use in the country and its presence in cars everywhere. Voicebot reported last year that Google was way ahead of Amazon in the smart speakers and smart displays market in Australia. Google accounted for almost 70% of Australian smart speakers and 41.5% of smart displays, while Amazon only made up 14% and 13.2% of the smart speaker and smart display markets, respectively. Cars represent a good chance for Amazon to entice people to use Alexa more. There aren’t a lot of vehicles built with Alexa as of yet, so a low-cost device like the Echo Auto is necessary. That’s especially true if Amazon brings some of the vehicle-specific features its been adding to Alexa in the U.S. to other countries, such as paying for gas by voice.