Amazon Echo was an unexpected hit with consumers, and now it is planning a major upgrade to stay one step ahead of its rivals.
Since Amazon launched its Echo device in the US back in 2015, the smart personal assistant with Alexa artificial intelligence has gone down a storm with consumers.
The only problem is that its rivals have caught on, and have already begun shipping, or at least planning, their own devices, with Google Home a prime example.
So, in order to keep itself ahead of the game, The Wall Street Journal reports that Amazon is set to reveal a revamped version of the Echo that will once again give it the edge on a market estimated to one day be worth nearly $16bn.
According to sources within Amazon, the new Echo will come with a 7in touchscreen, giving it the ability to make video calls.
This could also be a boon for marketers, as video capabilities could enable potential shoppers to easily search for items rather than asking Alexa to read them out over a speaker.
Expected to be announced formally later today (9 May), the Echo has already undergone tests with employees and Amazon plans to ship them out to customers within a month.
What it will cost
This won’t be the first Amazon device to come with a camera, though. The company recently unveiled its Echo Look (still only available through invitation), which can be considered a go-between for the old and upcoming Echo.
In terms of pricing, the device should cost no more than $200 in the US, not too far over its current retail price of between $150 and $180.
While the Echo is believed to have a market share of more than 70pc of all smart personal assistant devices, Amazon is not resting on its laurels with the rise of the Google Home.
With this dominance, the Echo has managed to stay in the lead, thanks to the creation of apps – or skills, as Amazon call them – with many of the world’s biggest brands.
Meanwhile, Apple is the latecomer to the party, with reports that its first personal assistant device will only be launched in the next few weeks.
Sadly, there is still no indication as to when – or if – the Amazon Echo will land in Ireland, despite it launching in the UK in September of last year.
Amazon Echo. Image: amedley/Shutterstock