Is there a wireless earbud that answers to the name Alexa in your future?
Amazon is staging an event Wednesday in Seattle to introduce its fall lineup of devices. At last year’s event, Amazon introduced 70 products, including updates to the Echo speaker line, a microwave that answered to Alexa and a DVR for cord-cutters. This year, CNBC reported, an Alexa earbud could top the list.
Apple dominates the earbuds market with the help of Siri. (Photo: Reviewed.com)
The earbud market is dominated by Apple and its popular $159 AirPods, which integrate with Apple’s personal assistant, Siri.
Amazon historically offers lower prices than competitors, so a cheaper $100 earbud that connected to digital music via an Alexa command could get Amazon closer to the wireless consumer, which it doesn’t reach as naturally as Apple and Samsung since it doesn’t make its own phone.
“Amazon wants to be everywhere the consumer is,” says Michael Pachter, an analyst with Wedbush Securities.
CNBC said that beyond music, the earbud would track fitness, which Apple’s AirPods don’t directly do. (That happens from the Apple Watch and iPhone.) With it securely in the ears, savvy consumers could have an easier time comparison shopping inconspicuously while standing in stores, without having to look to the phone for lower prices. Shoppers could instead ask Alexa how much the product is on Amazon, a practice retailers would not appreciate.
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Gene Munster, an analyst and investor with Loup Ventures, says Amazon’s biggest opportunity for the fall is in wearable products. Amazon wants “to catch some of the lightning that Apple got with the AirPods,” he says.
Consumers would interact via the Alexa smartphone app, which would provide a way for Amazon to get more visuals in front of consumers. The lack of visuals is what’s holding back voice-based shopping, he says.
The bulk of the presentation in 2018 was on updates to the Echo speaker line, with better audio and design. Amazon is likely to unveil more advances Wednesday, as well as new products in the Fire TV lineup.
Fire TV is a perennial best-seller for Amazon, a $25-and-up device that brings streaming video into the living room. Amazon’s popular Prime Video service (which won an Emmy this year for the comedy “Fleabag”) will have competition in November from Disney+ and Apple TV+.
Neither service has yet to cut a deal to have its content shown on Amazon devices, so there might be an update Wednesday, along with new Fire TV hardware.
The biggest headline from 2018 was the microwave that answered to Alexa. Bret Kinsella, editor of the Voicebot.ai website, which covers voice computing, says Amazon could do a talking toaster oven this year as a sequel. That “and an Alexa coffeemaker wouldn’t surprise me,” he says.
USA TODAY will cover the Amazon event in Seattle, so stick with us for the latest.
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