Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) is expected to announce a new version of Amazon Echo, its smart speaker device, on Tuesday, according to a report from The Wall Street Journal. The new device will come with some major upgrades including a 7-inch touchscreen and powerful speakers, the report said.
The touchscreen will allow users to make video telephone calls. Its phone calling function will be similar to Microsoft Skype, according to the Journal. Users will also be able to communicate with Alexa, the virtual assistant that comes with the device, using the screen.
Amazon has been testing the new device internally for several months. The online retailer could start shipping the new Echo sometime in June.
According to the report, Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) will price the new Echo speaker at more than $200, compared to $149 the price of the regular Echo device.
Last month, Amazon introduced Echo Look, a slimmer version of its Echo device, for fashion lovers. The new Echo Look features a camera that allows users take photos without having to a phone’s camera. The online retailer is offering this new device for $199 to members of Amazon Prime, the company’s paid subscription program, Fortune reported.
Amazon Echo was one of the hottest gadgets of 2016. It has been big hardware hit and one of one of the most successful smart home devices.
As you may already know, Echo is a hands-free speaker that you control with your voice. The device connects you to Alexa, the voice-controlled intelligent personal assistant developed by Amazon.
It is a $180 tube cylinder smart home platform that was debuted in 2014. Echo’s success has encouraged other tech giants including Microsoft, Google, and Apple as well as application developers to jump into the smart home market.
Microsoft has been working on its voice-activated speaker called Invoke. The Windows maker could launch the device at the end of this year. Last year, Google introduced Google Home, powered by Google Assistant, to compete with Echo. However, it does not appear to a big threat to the Amazon’s smart speaker. Reports suggest that Apple is also building a voice activated a device featureing a camera and facial recognition capabilities.
Amazon is leading the voice-controlled speaker market, according to research firm eMarketer. In its latest report, the firm said that the e-commerce giant dominates the speaker market with a 70% share.
According to a report from Markets and Markets, the smart home gadgets market could be worth $58.68 billion within the next four years. Other reports have pegged the number at $71 billion by the year 2018.