Vodafone Launches Átika Voice Assistant and Smart Speaker in Spain
Vodafone debuted a new voice assistant and smart speaker this week in Spain, both named Átika. The smart speaker integrates both the new Spanish-speaking AI and Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant. The new device, which Vodafone says is the first from a Spanish firm, arrives only a month after French telecom Orange started winding down sales of its standalone smart speaker in favor of pushing its Djingo voice assistant into more smart home devices.
The Átika smart speaker looks like many other smart speakers, with fabric covers and an elevated stand. The angles look almost sharp compared to Google’s latest design or Amazon and Apple’s completely spherical new smart speakers. Vodafone built the Átika smart speaker in a partnership with Sagemcom, incorporating its voice assistant and Alexa both. The speaker also includes specialized audio features from tech developer Devialet, such as adaptive volume level, which makes real-time changes to the volume depending on what’s being played. Devialet also contributed the Space feature, designed to make sound from the speaker immersive, whether alone or in tandem with other speakers.
Anyone can buy the Átika speaker, but the combination of voice assistant and the smart speaker is aimed at boosting Vodafone’s smart TV services in particular. The smart speaker enables voice controls for television when the owner also has a Vodafone set-top. Users will be able to order the voice assistant to find, record, and control playback on their TV, along with all of the other navigational features common to smart TVs. For those concerned about privacy, voice control can be shut off as well. The Átika’s price reflects Vodafone’s interest in that angle. The smart speaker costs €399, but only €216 for Vodafone customers, who can also sign up for a €6 monthly installment plan. As an early Black Friday sale, Vodafone customers can get the smart speaker even cheaper at €144 until the end of November. Both kinds of customers get three months free of Amazon Music Unlimited, a benefit of the Alexa integration.
Vodafone’s move into smart speaker hardware puts it ahead of any potential rivals in Spain, but a growing appetite for smart speakers and smart home devices doesn’t mean the gambit is without risk. It only took about a year for Orange to decide the Djingo Speaker had failed. Developed by Orange and Deutsche Telekom as a French alternative to Amazon and Google, the smart speaker was plagued by delays, launching half a year after its expected date and costing twice as much as originally planned. Like Vodafone, Orange partnered with Amazon and integrated Alexa as a voice assistant option for the speaker. Vodafone’s smart speaker imitates Orange in its main unique feature as well, with unique voice controls for smart TVs. That’s why Orange decided to expand its smart home services with Djingo, but not in a stand-alone form. Vodafone’s smart speaker may outperform its French counterpart, but it will have to entice some Spanish customers away from Echo and Nest smart speakers lest Átika become purely digital too.