Waiting for Amazon Alexa, Echo and Echo Dot in Australia
The UK and Germany can now go full Alexa, but there's no joy for Aussies just yet.
Overnight, we learned that Alexa, Amazon's intelligent voice assistant, will soon be available in the UK and Germany, in addition to the US. Amazon has also introduced the Echo Dot, an updated version of the originally Echo hardware used to access Alexa. It's very cool technology and we have an Echo in finder HQ, but unfortunately it's not officially available in Australia.
Try and order one through the main Amazon site and you'll be told it won't ship here. You can get around those restrictions by using a gift card or a shipping service, but that's a fiddly solution and you'll need to use a VPN to convince Echo that it's supposed to work. It would be so much nicer if the Echo and Echo Dot were officially available and worked straight out of the box.
It might happen one day, but I wouldn't hold your breath. While Amazon is happy to ship an awful lot of gear to Australian shoppers, the actual amazon.com.au site is nothing more than a portal for purchasing books to read on your Kindle. And if you want to order an actual Kindle reader, you'll still end up redirected to the main .com site.
The main problem is that Australia simply isn't a big enough market to justify masses of investment and customisation by Amazon. A combination of population size and our substandard delivery systems mean that there's no sensible way of rolling out its Amazon Prime subscription service, which promises postage-free fast delivery. That's one of the reasons why so many Americans use Amazon, and it seems to now be a prerequisite for Amazon expanding its services in a given country.
Amazon Prime membership also gives you access to Amazon's streaming media library, but that's not available to Australians either. As a consequence, Prime exclusive shows such as The Grand Tour (the next production from the former Top Gear trio Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May) may not appear in Australia at all.
It could be worse; I imagine Australia will get Alexa and Echo before (for example) New Zealand. But it doesn't seem likely to happen any time soon.
Angus Kidman's Findings column looks at new developments and research that help you save money, make wise decisions and enjoy your life more. It appears Monday through Friday on finder.com.au.