Amazon might be planning to launch a new Echo speaker in the next few weeks, according to a report from The Wall Street Journal.
The new Echo speaker, code-named Fox, is apparently smaller, battery powered, and cheaper than the original. It is similar in size to a can of soda, and stands vertically with a speaker grill at the head of the device.
Amazon appears to be appealing to customers who might want a virtual assistant, but don’t want to spend $180 for the device. A specific price for the new Echo speaker was not given in the report.
Making it battery powered allows users to take the Echo speaker with them on vacations and to the office. Similar to a smartphone, the Echo speaker will now be able to listen wherever you go, as long as you take the device with you.
At launch, the Amazon Echo was panned by critics, who said the device is an extension of what most smartphones already offer. However, in the past few months we’ve seen a change in opinion, with 30,000 mostly positive reviews on Amazon.
We still don’t know the sales figures for the Echo speaker, but we suspect they’re good, considering the company is planning a second version.
In the past few months, Amazon has added restaurant recommendations, streaming services, home automation, and traffic and weather reports to the Echo speaker, making it a lot more usable.
At the same time, Amazon launched a $100 million fund for hardware developers to collaborate with the Echo.
It is clear virtual assistance and artificial intelligence has become a big deal at Amazon, as the e-commerce giant sees the benefits of having an always-on microphone that can listen for contextual information, which includes adding more items to the shopping cart.
Will this additional support and consumer interest lead to more sales? We will see in the next few months.