E-commerce giant Amazon today announced that it will bring its Alexa-powered 'Echo' smart speakers to India, priced at Rs 4,499 onwards, making the country its fourth market to receive these smart products.
E-commerce giant Amazon today announced that it will bring its Alexa-powered ‘Echo’ smart speakers to India, priced at Rs 4,499 onwards, making the country its fourth market to receive these smart products. Echo, which is powered by Amazon’s Alexa cloud-based voice service, competes with products like Google Assistant- based Home and Apple’s Siri-based HomePod. The latter two products are, however, not available in India yet. The hands-free, voice-controlled speaker wakes up to the word “Alexa”. Users can get answers almost instantly to queries, set reminders, control lights and play music, among other uses. “It has been about a year that we have been working on bringing in Alexa and Echo to India. Amazon Echo is a revolutionary device that is designed entirely around your voice,” Amazon Devices and Services Senior Vice President Dave Limp told PTI. He added that Alexa is programmed to understand English with local Indian accents. Built to leverage cloud and Amazon Web Services, the Alexa Voice Service uses machine learning and big data analytics to enhance its functionality.
“Tens of millions of customers are already using Alexa… As we roll out Alexa and Echo into India, it will keep learning to enhance the experience of users,” he said. The introduction of Alexa in India would further intensify Amazon’s battle with local rival Flipkart. While both the players compete head-on in the online marketplace space, Amazon has been trying to differentiate itself bringing in devices like Kindle and Fire TV stick to the Indian market.
It had also launched its Prime Video service in India last year to woo customers with the latest movies and original content to build stickiness with the platform. Amazon will bring Amazon Echo Dot (hockey puck-shaped device) at Rs 4,499, Amazon Echo (standard version) for Rs 9,999 and Amazon Echo Plus (larger speaker than Echo) for Rs 14,999. “Customers can request an invite from the Amazon website. We will begin shipping Echo starting the week of October 30. In the next few months, we should be able to deliver to everyone without invites,” he said.
Besides, Amazon India is also launching ‘Prime Music’ streaming service in India. “A preview of Prime Music will be initially available for Echo customers at no additional cost. It will be rolled out to other Prime members in the coming months,” Amazon Music India Director Sahas Malhotra said. He added that the company has added Bollywood and well as music from Indian languages to its catalogue. To ensure that developers can build more user experiences around Alexa and Echo, Amazon has expanded its Alexa Skills Kit (ASK) and the Alexa Voice Service (AVS).
“With ASK, designers, developers, and brands can build engaging skills and reach millions of customers in the US, UK, Germany, and now India. Anyone can design and build for voice, no coding knowledge is required,” Limp said. He added that more than 10,000 “skills” will be available when the service launches to customers in India. Some of the Indian firms that are a part of the initiative are Saavn, ESPNcricinfo, Goibibo, Syska LED, Zomato and Ola, among others. This could help customers order food or rides, or get match scores using the Echo smart speaker.