Amazon 'placing pressure on tech rivals' with new Echo devices

Amazon 'placing pressure on tech rivals' with new Echo devices
Echo buttons: small buttons that connect to an Echo via Bluetooth and can be used as game show-style buzzers for quiz games

Amazon's new line of Echo smart home devices have placed more pressure on Google and Apple to catch up, an industry expert has said.

The firm unveiled a host of new Echo devices during an event at their headquarters in Seattle, including a redesign of the flagship Echo speaker and a more smart home-friendly Echo Plus.

Echo Buttons, Bluetooth-connected buzzers that can be used with Echo-based quizzes, and two screen-based Echo devices - Show and Spot - were also shown off.

Amazon Echo Plus, a more powerful version of the Echo which automatically looks for and connects with other smart home devices around the home.
Amazon Echo Plus, a more powerful version of the Echo which automatically looks for and connects with other smart home devices around the home.

Technology expert Stuart Miles said the wide range of new products powered by virtual assistant Alexa had left the company on the verge of dominating the smart home market.

"Amazon's Alexa event in Seattle shows that the company is taking its huge lead in the smart home speaker market and pushing on even harder to completely break away from the competition," he said.

"While Apple and Google are still stumbling with the launch of Google Home and Apple HomePod respectively, Amazon's release of numerous products shows that it is trying to make sure that Alexa can be everywhere in your home."

However, Mr Miles warned that such a broad range of products did also leave Amazon at risk of overwhelming customers.

"That eagerness to be everywhere for everyone might lead to confusion for consumers not sure how to navigate the array of new devices now available to them. 'Which Echo do I get?' is likely to be a popular question this Christmas," he said.

"But, if Amazon can educate its prospective customers, then it has the ecosystem in place to now deliver and, if successful, will leave the competition and what they're offering far behind.

"Amazon is clearly planning on dominating the smart home speaker market with price and smarts, and now it has a device in every room from the kitchen to the bedroom to be able to do that."

Education appears to be part of Amazon's thinking, with the new Echo Plus designed to help users easily set up and connect smart home devices such as connected lightbulbs and other appliances to their Echo.

The Echo Plus contains a built-in "smart home hub" which automatically links devices it detects and has been developed to streamline this process, Amazon said.

A new and updated Fire TV streaming device was also announced.

That announcement comes just after Apple revealed its own new streaming box, the Apple TV, now also support the two technologies for the first time.

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