Amazon Event Today: Expect Echo Updates And A Little Weirdness


Amazon.com Inc.

AMZN -2.82%

may make the best-selling smart speaker on the planet, but that’s just one of dozens of electronic gadgets in its portfolio. The company has a habit of announcing bizarre products every fall, and during Tuesday’s hardware event, which was broadcast virtually due to the pandemic, we expect Amazon AMZN -2.82%

to unveil a few, alongside new additions to the popular Echo speaker family.

A four year old Echo Spot is one of my favorite and most used speakers in my house. But I care less about what might eventually replace it, than the wackiest gadgets from Amazon’s annual parade. Let’s take a look at years past: We saw a smart ring for whispering Alexa commands into your finger, a weirdly specific sticky note printer that actually seemed useful, and of course, a Ring-branded safety drone for flying. around your house when you are not there.

Amazon hasn’t sold any of these products to the masses, not yet anyway. But there was a time, when Amazon released the first Echo in 2014, when an always-listening robot speaker seemed so eccentric. Before millions of people had Alexa in their homes, it was more like a publicity stunt.

“It’s definitely making headlines,” Daniel Newman, senior analyst at Futurum Research, said of Amazon’s gadget surge. “And they have the track record and the R&D dollars to take risks.”

Many devices, like an autonomous flying drone for your home, test the line between cool and scary. The dominance of Echo speakers in the smart speaker market shows that Amazon is able to make consumers more tolerant of things they might have approached cautiously to begin with: even though the speakers are not an always open audio channel from your house to Amazon, they do collect and send a considerable amount of audio on a regular basis.

The popularity of Amazon devices is partly due to their low price. During last year’s tech antitrust hearing, Representative Jamie Raskin asked then General Manager Jeff Bezos if Amazon had sold the Echo speaker below cost, which could stifle competition. “It’s not its list price, but it’s often on sale,” Bezos said. “And sometimes when it’s on sale, it can be below cost. “

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Inexpensive devices contribute relatively little to the company’s bottom line, but provide a gateway to more profitable Amazon purchases and other services, Newman said.

An Echo Dot costs around $ 50, but a Prime membership, which includes music you can play on Echo speakers and shows to stream on a Fire TV Stick, earns $ 119 per year. And you can ask Alexa to order more crisps from Amazon once you’ve emptied the bag. Features for kids, like Alexa’s bedtime reading and the $ 69 per year Amazon Kids + subscription for age-appropriate content, build a relationship with the brand from the start. “This child could become a consumer himself. There is a long tail of lifetime value, ”he said.

Amazon already announced new hardware earlier this month. There’s an updated Kindle Paperwhite e-reader with a bigger screen and battery, plus USB-C charging, as well as a bundle of Amazon-branded TVs with Alexa and the company’s Fire TV operating system. integrated. Stay tuned for a roundup of other gadgets to come after the midday event.

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Write to Nicole Nguyen at [email protected]

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