Amazon and Google’s Pre-Black Friday Sales May Show More Interest in Upgrades and Expansion Over Customer Acquisition
The pre-Black Friday deals are dropping prices on all sorts of voice assistant-enabled devices. This year, Google and Amazon have several new devices to push, as well as stockpiles from previous generations to sell off, which should make for some pretty steep discounts. The smart home category is filling up ad circulars from retail stores too, but there’s a notable uniformity among the sales so far, with no difference between what retail stores like Target and Best Buy offer as sale prices, and what’s available on Amazon and Google’s own online stores.
At Amazon, the Echo family of devices is offering some expectedly deep discounts. The new Amazon Echo, distinguished by its orb shape, is down $30 to $70, while the similarly shaped, if smaller Echo Dot has dropped $21, to $29, while both the Echo Dot with a clock built-in and the Echo Dot Kids Edition, distinguished by its animal skin, has fallen from $60 to $29. There’s an odd mix of sales for the previous generation of Echos. The high-end Echo Studio is still pricy at $160, although that’s still 20% off its usual $200 price tag, while the last iteration of the Echo Dot has dropped from $40 to $19. For Google, the Nest Mini sale price is the same as the Echo Dot, although it’s a steeper discount, ending up at $19 from $49.
The regular third-generation Echo is entirely unavailable, however. Amazon has halved the cost of last year’s smart displays too. The Echo Show 8 is down from $65 and the smaller Echo Show 5 costs only $45. The new Google Nest Audio oddly is not on sale by itself, but for Black Friday, there’s a $30 sale when you buy two of them, bringing the total down to $169. The Nest Hub Max smart display has a pretty good discount of $50 for a total of $179. As for the devices getting phases out, most of the Google Home-branded devices are gone, but the Google Home Max is half off at $150. And while Facebook may rely on Amazon for its voice assistant, the Portal TV device that turns televisions into smart displays has still gone on sale at $129 compared to the usual $149. All of the Facebook Portal smart displays are on sale. The eight-inch Facebook Portal Mini costs $65 instead of $129, while the ten-inch option has fallen from $179 to $129 and the Facebook Portal Plus is discounted from $280 to $229
As the various smart ecosystems become more mature, the developers may be looking beyond simply grabbing customers who haven’t purchased a smart speaker before. The focus may be turning to get people to expand and upgrade their existing smart home setups with more and newer devices. That might explain why the current sales bring the prices on the earlier and newer generations of devices to near parity in some cases. With around a third of U.S. households having at least one smart speaker, the emphasis in the sales could be more about cementing and growing the number of smart devices in each home that uses a particular voice assistant instead. That’s especially true when so many of the sales are on the devices built by Amazon and Google. Any flash sales for Black Friday may enforce that narrative, but the real test will be which devices come out ahead in sales numbers after Cyber Monday.