Technology

Amazon is launching another Echo to beat Apple’s Homepod

Believe it or not, it has been 2 years since Amazon originally launched the original Echo. Since then we have seen many competitors enter the space including Google Home and, most recently, Apple’s HomePod. Now it appears that the Amazon Echo 2 is in the works.

Amazon Echo 2
By brewbooks from near Seattle, USA (Amazon Echo unpacked) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
It’s funny to think of a 2 year old product as a pioneer of an entire tech segment, but that’s exactly what the Amazon Echo is. Before the Echo there was no other notable voice-controlled virtual assistant on the market. Of course, the Echo is also a great voice-activated speaker. It did its job so well and became so popular that companies like Google and Apple couldn’t avoid getting in on the action.

Since the announcement of the Apple HomePod, the Echo began to show its age. The design of the HomePod is far more elegant than the Echo and the sound from HomePod is far more superior to the 2-year-old Echo. When compared with Google Home, the Echo looks dated and cheap. Since some real competition is in the market now, Amazon has gone back to the drawing board.

Reports suggest that the Amazon Echo 2 will be shorter and slimmer than the original. As well, the plastic design will be replaced with a cloth-like outer shell. However, design is subjective. The real question is if the Amazon Echo 2 will perform as well as Apple’s HomePod which is now considered to be the new king of the voice-activated speaker market.

If the rumors are true, it sounds (pun intended) like Amazon is aiming to be able to compete with the HomePod when it comes to playing audio. The original Echo only had one tweeter and one woofer. That was fine when it was the only product on the market but now that HomePod has jumped into the fray with seven tweeters, the Echo is simply out-muscled by Apple’s offering.

There is also talk that Amazon will try to improve their microphone technology in the Echo 2. It’s not immediately clear how they will manage this but a software solution would be most likely. Google Home has made some great steps forward with microphone technology, using only two microphones compared to six on the HomePod and seven on the Echo while offering, arguably, better quality.

No matter what happens in the development of the Amazon Echo 2, their pricing may be their greatest competitive advantage. The HomePod looks and sounds great but carries a hefty $349 price tag. Google Home is nicely priced at $130. However, no one has the history in this space that Amazon does. If the price of the Amazon Echo 2 can settle nicely around where the original Echo sold then they could have another hit on their hands.

Of course, nothing is official until Amazon makes it official. Hopefully we get a closer look at the Amazon Echo 2 sometime this fall, just in time for the holiday shopping season. Hold on, it looks like the voice-activated speaker wars are just starting to heat up!