Amazon starts taking orders for Amazon Echo in Australia
“Alexa, order me another Echo Dot”
The dust has barely settled from the launch of Amazon’s Australian digital storefront late in 2017, but the company isn’t sitting back, today announcing the availability of its Echo family of speakers for the Australian and New Zealand markets.
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According to Dave Limp, Senior Vice President, Amazon Devices & Services, Amazon fed its machine learning algorithms a huge amount of data on local dialects, accents and slang in order to get the service ready to launch Down Under, with the process taking about a year.
“The algorithms that run our natural language processing and our text to speech engine, they all use these modern techniques, the deep neural networks. And to make those work well, you feed them with data. And so we go out and collect a lot of data from customers who help us,” he explained.
Just like with Google Home’s Australian launch, a lot of work has gone into that localisation, with Alexa able to not only understand local slang and hold its own with an ocker Australian conversation, but also plenty of Aussie easter eggs hidden below the surface, like getting Alexa to sing Waltzing Matilda.
The Australian launch of the Echo speaker family will feature more than 10,000 Skills – software integrations that add functionality to the Echo devices. Among those Skills are a number from Australian developers, including the ability to check your Qantas flight time, get a surf report from CoastalWatch, or have a recipe read out from Taste.com.au.
Interestingly, the Australian Echo products will launch with the ability to make and receive calls and text messages in Australia. Although it will be unable to associate different voices to different accounts at launch, Amazon promised that function will come to Australian products in time.
Amazon Music Unlimited also streaming alongside the Echo launch
To take advantage of the Echo family’s music playback capability, Amazon is also launching its Amazon Music Unlimited service in Australia and New Zealand. With over 45 million songs, it will go head to head with Spotify and Apple Music for the Australian music lover’s attention.
Not to be confused with Amazon Prime Music (which isn’t available in Australia), Amazon Music Unlimited will be available from 1 February. To celebrate the launch, Amazon has created over 150 different Australian music playlists, which can obviously be controlled and played back on the Echo speakers, as well as iOS and Android apps.
A special 90-day free trial will be available for new Echo purchases for a limited time, then a special “Echo” plan will be available for $4.99/month that will support playback on Amazon’s speakers. The full subscription, with mobile apps and track downloads, will cost $11.99/month
Price and availability
Pre-orders for the Australian Echo speakers start from 6am on January 18 from amazon.com.au, with devices expected to ship from early February. They will also be available from JB Hi-Fi, Telstra, Officeworks and Myer stores.
Normally, the Echo Dot will cost $79, the Echo $149 and the Echo Plus $229, but to celebrate the launch Amazon is offering a limited launch pricing that takes $30 off the RRP, so you can get the Dot for $49, the Echo for $119 and the Echo Plus for $199.