The rumour mill has been in overdrive with whispers that Amazon could launch their long-rumoured touchscreen Echo voice assistant device today. Images of how the device might look were leaked last week and while I myself am not a huge fan of the design, I can see the benefit a touchscreen would add.
In addition to Alexa’s current skills and functionality, the device will support video calling similar to Microsoft’s Skype, although this function may be limited at first. Initially an intercom feature could be available allowing communication with one another. As with the launch of the Echo Look, launched last month, this device will have a focus on shopping with you telling Alexa what you’d like to buy, allowing options to appear on the screen.
I myself sometimes find it difficult asking Alexa a question and navigating through different options without a touchscreen, so it’s clear that a touchscreen will definitely have added value for users. With the focus on shopping, visual options are more appealing for users. With larger, more powerful speakers it will also have improved sound quality. There are also opportunities to move into social networking services, photos, and games. Lets be honest the voice activated games are not as fun as those you can play on a screen.
It’s unclear how much the device will cost in the UK and Ireland, however, the Wall Street Journal reports the new Echo will be priced at over $200. The original Echo is priced at $180, while the smaller Echo Dot sells for $50.
Amazon still leads the way in the market share for home speakers with 70%, however it will face some stiff competition in the form of Google Home, the Harmon Invoke powered by Microsoft and Apple’s rumoured Siri-based “Alexa Killer”. The launch of this device put’s them out ahead of the competition, allowing Amazon to expand the potential and stake an early claim for their place in customers’ homes.
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