Rumour: Amazon’s developing a new Echo speaker to take on Apple’s HomePod

Alex Kidman 14 July 2017 NEWS

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Will Australians get an all-new Echo speaker by the time the online retailer launches here?

The smart home speaker market is seriously heating up, with Google expected to announce local availability of its Google Home speaker in Australia any day now, and Apple's HomePod due to launch on these shores in December.

Meanwhile, Amazon lurks in the background, with the picture around its Australian launch plans becoming clearer every day, right down to the types of folks it wants working for it locally. Amazon has its own smart speaker in the US and UK markets, the Amazon Echo, which uses its own Alexa voice client for a variety of smart services, and, naturally enough, direct ordering from Amazon itself.

However, it appears that news of the Apple HomePod may have folks at Amazon a bit spooked given the reports from Engadget suggesting that the mass retailer is working on a next-generation Echo speaker.

The updated Echo will, as per the report, be shorter and slimmer with a cloth finish and multiple internal tweeters, rather than the single tweeter on the current model. Amazon is also said to be working on improving the Echo's inbuilt microphones for more precise listening abilities, although details on exactly how it is managing that were scarce.

The Echo's pricing puts it between that of the Google Home and Apple HomePod currently, but it's not clear if Amazon will pursue a two-tier strategy for Echo pricing by retaining the existing model and offering the new Echo as a premium option. Based on existing Echo pricing, it's still likely to come in cheaper than the Apple HomePod.

Amazon is reportedly looking at an autumn release in the US, which would mean that it's highly likely that the model of Echo we see here in Australia will be the new improved model.

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