Amazon is working on a new smart speaker that will replace the company’s flagship Echo device, those privy to the development revealed to Engadget. Needless to say this has much to do with the impending launch of Apple’s HomePod which is due out this year-end.
The rumored feature set is also indicative of Amazon’s plans to take Apple’s HomePod head-on. That includes packing in multiple tweeters to allow for a much better sound quality. HomePod boasts of seven tweeters compared to just a single large one that the Echo comes with at the moment.
The above is in spite of rumors claiming the forthcoming Echo will be smaller and slimmer than the current Echo. The edges too will be more rounded while there is going to be a fabric sort of thing draped around. This would be in contrast to the current Echo that now is almost entirely made of a plastic shell.
Rumor also has it that the new Echo will feature better far-field microphones. Surely the accompanying software too will be equally enhanced to allow the mics to perform to their optimum each time. The Echo currently makes do with seven far-field mics while the same on Apple HomePod and Google Home stands at six and two respectively.
Lastly, pricing will be another crucial factor that would no doubt be given greater weightage in view of the increased competition. The Echo right now sells for $180, a price point Amazon has stuck to ever since the speaker was launched two years ago.
Whether or not the new Echo will stick to the same price remains to be seen though. Apple clearly is targeting the higher end with its $349 HomePod though Google Home is a lot more affordable at $130.
Sure Amazon has cheaper alternatives in the form of the Echo Dot and the Echo Tap though it is the Echo that will always be subjected to the greatest scrutiny. Amazon had established the segment two years ago and it will be interesting to see how a new Echo will help it re-establish its supremacy in an increasingly crowded segment.