Amazon Product Launch

13 New Amazon Products Announced During the 2020 Launch Event Including New Echo, Show, Fire TV, and a Security Drone for the Home

  • Amazon refreshed its full smart speaker product line with a distinctive spherical update to the Echo and Echo Dot models
  • The new Echo Show 10 now swivels, pans, tilts, and zooms, to enable better video chat support and ensure the screen is always visible
  • Ring introduced new security products for the car and more interesting, a security camera drone for the home

Amazon’s annual product launch has become not only a showcase for the Alexa voice assistant but also a barrage of new product introductions. In its fourth annual installment, the 2020 event continued this trend. There were over a dozen new products introduced ranging from needed updates to the flagship smart speaker portfolio to a drone that can fly around your home and live stream footage of what is happening to your Ring app.

Light on Alexa but a Significant New Capability

Unlike previous years, the 2020 event was light on Alexa. There were the requisite Alexa integration references and devices purpose-built for access to the voice assistant but the star of the show was the new hardware and a couple of interesting services. One item that may be overlooked in the shadow of the home security drone is the new natural turn-taking capabilities for Alexa.

Amazon vice president Rohit Prasad previewed a video of two users adding Alexa to an ongoing conversation. Once invited to join the conversation, Alexa listens and participates when appropriate without the need for the wake word to be invoked again. This enables the assistant to maintain context and better serve the users. We will have a more detailed break-down about what this means in a dedicated article.

Amazon, the Device Company

All of Amazon’s devices may be designed primarily to deliver services whether it is home security or accessing entertainment. However, the company is clearly an important device maker and more attention was paid to the devices themselves in this year’s event. Below we have summarized thirteen substantial product announcements made during today’s events. Check back here later as we intend to update this list as more information is provided by Amazon.

Number Product Name Price Category What Matters
1 Echo $99.99 Smart Speaker This is the original Amazon smart speaker and it gets the biggest update yet going from cylindrical to spherical. It is more than a style upgrade. It is also replacing the Echo Plus which was the smart home aficionado oriented solution. The new Echo includes a Zigbee hub for smart home device connectivity, supports Amazon’s Sidewalk service as a gateway, gets Dolby stereo sound, and a new 3.0-inch woofer for better low range fidelity. It will also sense the room acoustics and adapted the sound to the space.
2 Echo Dot $49.99 Smart Speaker The lowest cost and best selling of Amazon’s smart speaker and Alexa-enabled products. It is also a sphere now and leaves behind its original hockey-puck form factor. Color options include Charcoal, Glacier White, and Twilight Blue. It will ship later this year.
3 Echo Dot with Clock $59.99 Smart Speaker As Voicebot predicted the Echo Dot with Clock was also updated. In this case, it now has the same spherical styling at the Echo Dot but includes an LCD display of the time on the front. It is expected to be available later this year.
4 Echo Dot for Kids $59.99 Smart Speaker Keeping in line with the spherical motif, the kids edition Echo Dot looks like ball and comes with new designs such as tiger and panda bear.
5 Echo Show 10 $249.99 Smart Display Only one of the smart displays received an update in this year’s product refresh cycle but it was a big change. The 10-inch display previously looked like a tablet residing on a wedge to keep it upright. The new model is a big change. It has a cylindrical page and the tablet-sized screen can rotate around it. Users can set the device to follow them around the room and it will keep them in view over 360 degrees. Neither the Facebook Portal or Google Nest Hub Max can do that.
6 Fire TV Stick $39.99 Smart Home This update adds HDR and Dolby Atmos support and includes Alexa Voice Remote. Amazon is billing it at 50% more powerful and 50% less power consumption than the earlier generation. It begins shipping in select countries next week. Customers in Canada, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Pre-orders are available now. Note that that Fire TV Stick Lite is available in several countries where the Fire TV stick will not be available at launch.
7 Fire TV Stick Lite $29.99 Smart Home More powerful than the previous Fire TV Stick product, the lite is the budget version. It supports full-HD streaming, HDR, and an Alexa-powered voice remote. The chip isn’t as powerful and no Dolby. It will begin shipping next week to Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, India, Italy, Mexico, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States can begin pre-ordering today. Amazon noted that Fire TV Stick Lite will represent the introduction of Fire TV services for the first time in Australia, Brazil, and Mexico.
8 eero 6 $129.99 Smart Home The Eero product line was acquired by Amazon in February 2019. It is a WiFi and mesh networking solution that is designed to maximized wireless connectivity throughout the home. As Amazon is encouraging consumers to add more smart home devices in more areas of the home, they are invariably running across WiFi dead zones. The mesh networking system is designed to fill in those coverage gaps and keep smart home devices connected, regardless of where the consumer wants to place them. The updated model is dual band and supports WiFi 6 which can connect with more than 75 devices simultaneously. It also has a Zigbee hub to connect with compatible smart home devices that do not connect directly to WiFi. Can support internet connections up to 500Mbps.
9 eero Pro 6 $229.99 Smart Home The Pro 6 model has all of the features of the 6 but is tri-band and incorporates two 5GHz WiFi bands in addition to 2.45GHz. It is rated to support 2,000 square feet compared to 1,500 square feet for the 6. And, it is designed for homes with Gigabit internet connections.
10 Ring Car Alarm $59.99 Smart Home A new device that monitors your car for break-in, tows, and other unexpected events, Ring Car Alarm connects with Amazon Sidewalk and plugs into the ODB port standard on most cars. It will send an alert to the user anytime something is detected. There is no monthly subscription, just an upfront payment and it can link with other Ring devices.
11 Ring Car Cam $199.99 Smart Home Ring Car Cam kicks up the automobile protection level a bit by also recording video in and around your car. It appears to have all of the features of the Ring Car Alarm and can send real-time alerts to the Ring app. It also includes “dual-facing HD cameras” offering a live view into what is happening in and around the car with an optional LTE plan. It can also connect to WiFi. The camera will also record traffic stops and notify loved ones if you are pulled over and with Emergency Crash Assist with notify emergency services if a “serious crash is detected.”
12 Ring Always Home Cam $249.99 Smart Home The real star of the Amazon event was the new in-home security drone. It can fly through your house and stream video on what is happening in different rooms. Some people may not want fixed cameras everywhere in the home. Others recognize that even with multiple cameras it is impractical to cover all areas of most homes. Now you have a mobile camera that can fill in the gap. Presumably, this could work in concert with Alexa Guard and roam the house after a concerning noise is detected (i.e. breaking glass) and investigate.
13 Luna Game Controller $49.99 Gaming Amazon’s new game streaming service has a pretty standard-looking game controller that includes a mic and low-latency cloud connectivity. There was no real discussion of Alexa integration here but it does tie to other Amazon services and runs on AWS. Not sure how this will stack up to offerings from Apple and Google much less Sony and Microsoft, but it does have native Twitch integration so there is that.

What Was Missing? Mobility

It’s also fair to comment on what we didn’t see. The most noticeable absences were new Echo Buds as these are a strategically important device category for Amazon as it seeks to get more Alexa adoption through smartphones. Eric Schwartz had a story today about how the wireless earbuds aren’t living up to expectations for many consumers. Echo Frames and Echo Loop, the Day One beta initiatives introduced last year remain in beta and invite-only. There was no mention of what has been learned or when or whether to expect public availability.

Also receiving no mention was Alexa Auto. Amazon has a device for the car and integrations with some automakers. The common thread among the absences was mobility. Amazon’s three Alexa-enabled wearable devices introduced last year were ignored. The king of mobility devices, the car was not mentioned. It’s not to say that Amazon hasn’t been busy. Instead, the observation is that Amazon doubled down on the home this year and deferred updates or meaningful announcements to its Alexa mobility portfolio.

A Focus on the Home

This situation might be in keeping with our times as mobility is less critical when everyone is stuck at home. So, we saw more about media consumption and communications for the home, and new security products. Amazon will surely need to come back to mobility products eventually as it is the biggest weakness in its Alexa Everywhere strategy. However, the pandemic lock-downs may have bought Amazon some time to make improvements to the devices and services focus on mobility while bringing the market back to its real strength: ambient computing devices and services. That is smart home, smart speakers, and all the other digitally connected devices for the places we inhabit as opposed to having on our person.

There you have it. Let me know on Twitter @bretkinsella what you think. What device are you most interested in that was announced today? What didn’t you see today that you were expecting or wanted?

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