Echo, an Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) creation, is now available to the general public. After months of being only available by invitation-only or to Amazon Prime Subscribers, the online retail giant has begun selling the digital personal assistant to everyday customers. In other words, you can finally bring Alexa home.
You Can Now Pre-Order Amazon Echo
Amazon Echo will come with a pre-order price-tag of $180 but it won’t start shipping until July 14. It previously cost $199 for regular customers and $149 for Amazon Prime members.
For those that don’t remember, Amazon unveiled the always-listening machine in November. It showcased the product in a widely ridiculed video that became a parody across YouTube.
Just what does Amazon Echo do? The Internet-connected speaker, which became the rival to Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) Siri, plays music, answers questions, creates to-do lists, tells time and provides news and weather updates. It can also be trained to recognize your voice. If someone else talks at the same time then it will hone in on your specific voice.
Echo Has Been Updated
Since its release, Amazon has installed a number of other features to make it more compatible in a smart connected home. Some of the latest additions consist of allowing Alexa to control Phillips Hue lightbulbs and Belkin WeMo switches and permitting the company to decide what brand of products to purchase when you order Alexa to buy a book, watch or tablet.
Another important feature is Echo’s support of third-party audio services like Audible and Pandora. It can be coalesced with Google (NASDAQ:GOOGL) Calendar so you can listen to your schedule.
“We’re excited to get Echo into the hands of even more customers and continue to invent new features and experiences,” said Greg Hart, vice president for Amazon’s Echo, in a statement.
Amazon’s Plight to be Tech Leader
Amazon has gradually been diving into the realm of consumer technology. In the last few years, Amazon has released Kindle e-readers, Fire tablets, Fire TV streaming boxes and the disappointing Fire Phone, a smartphone that was considered a flop upon its release. Within the first 20 days of its release, Amazon could only sell around 35,000 smartphones.
David Mitchell Smith, a Gartner analyst covering Amazon, told CNET that Echo will likely continue to power and link to other devices and Amazon’s online store moving forward. With that being said, Smith does believe “the technology has potential beyond the device itself.”