Amazon to Reveal Latest Version of Its Smart Speakers

Sep 30, 2017 Ι Industry News Ι Electronics and Computers Ι By Alan Lu, CENS
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With an aim to rival against the two best-known electronics giants, Apple and Google, Amazon.com Inc., an American e-commerce and cloud computing company based in Seattle, Washington, launched its latest version of smart speakers, “Echo Plus” and “Echo Spot,” featuring the firm's cutting-edge intelligent personal assistant, Alexa Voice Service (AVS).

Amazon's newly launched “Echo Plus”, with high sound quality and a built-in smart home hub that works with a number of connected home appliances like lights, air-con, door-lock and etc., will sell for US$150 (NT$4560) per unit.

At the same time, Amazon unveiled a mini Echo smart speaker, Echo Spot, with a 2.5-inch screen that shows time, weather info, news, and clips; and the built-in camera allows users to make video calls through Alexa. Unit price will start at US$130 (NT$3952).

Amazon's device coupled with display and AVS allows users to watch movies, read e-books and play music on their voice-enabled products. Aiming to connect more customers to its online shopping website and Prime membership service, Amazon knows AVS is the main drive to achieve the goal. Thus, the firm has integrated AVS into all of its hardware products as a way to promote its flagship voice service technology.

On another front, Apple and Google are venturing into the smart speaker market as well. It is reported that Apple will launch “HomePod” smart speaker this December, and Google plans to debut its smaller “Home Speaker” on Oct 4th. To compete with the two strong foes' Siri and Google Assistant, Amazon will undoubtedly put more efforts on the promotion of Alexa.

Also notable is that several Taiwan-based manufacturers played major roles in the “Echo-series” supply chain. Echo processors are provided by MediaTek Inc. a Taiwanese fabless semiconductor company that provides system-on-chip solutions; power supplies are manufactured by Chicony Electronics CO., Ltd, a Taiwan-based multinational electronics maker; electroacoustic components are offered by Merry Electronics, a world-leading manufacturer of electroacoustic products; lens are made by AOET, a professional optical lens supplier; and Hon-Hai, the world's largest EMS (electronic manufacturing service) provider by size, were responsible for the assembly process.

According to eMarketer, a heavy-weight market research firm, Amazon, with a 70.6% share of the market, still takes the lead in the smart speaker field; while Google Home and other companies possess a 23.8% and 5.6% share in the market, respectively. As Echo-series continue to be popular in the market, the abovementioned Taiwan-based manufacturers will see a prosperous year to come.
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