As previously reported by The Wall Street Journal and others, Amazon is introducing a touchscreen Alexa-powered device, which significantly changes the market for digital assistant devices. It costs $229 and will be available on June 28.
It’s essentially a 7-inch Amazon Fire tablet with Alexa and a good set of speakers. Amazon is offering $100 off if people buy two.
A new feature, the Show, enables users to make calls “to family and friends who have an Echo or the Alexa App.” It will also stream video and music. And it promises better sound. While music is playing, it shows song lyrics on the screen.
A video on the Amazon site shows a wide range of use cases, including watching how-to videos on YouTube, making video calls, and using it as a baby monitor.
The ability to make calls, albeit limited right now, is a significant development, along with the screen. The Cortana-powered Harmon Kardon speaker will also make calls using Skype.
What this means is that consumers will eventually be able to connect to businesses through these digital assistant devices, and they will become a measureable way to drive calls and conversions.
The screen also has an intriguing new set of capabilities — and advertising possibilities — which rivals will need to match. Alexa Skills can also evolve to become visual, more like conventional smartphone and tablet apps.
We won’t know how compelling a device this is until we can get our hands on one. But I would expect them to sell out initially.
Amazon changed the game with its original Echo, which no one saw coming. It has done so again with the Echo Show.
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