Amazon debuts Siri-like assistant for the home

Amazon is turning the virtual personal assistant into a physical product.

The e-commerce giant on Thursday unveiled Echo, a cylindrical gadget that has a Siri clone built into it. Like Apple’s famous digital assistant, Echo can play music or tell jokes on command, answer questions about measurements or facts and tell you the weather. Unlike Siri, it’s not built into a phone or tablet but instead comes in the form of a device that doubles as a wireless┬áspeaker system.

Also in contrast to Siri, users don’t have to push a button to interact with Echo. Instead, the device is always listening to its surroundings and will activate when a user says, “Alexa,” which acts as its “wake” word. Like Siri, the device taps into servers on the Internet to help answer users’ queries and commands.

Echo has some tricks that other personal assistants don’t. It can add items to a shopping list, for example. And users can beam music to it from their smartphones or tablets via Bluetooth.

For now, Amazon is limiting sales of Echo. In order to buy it, consumers have to request from Amazon an invitation to do so. The company is charging $200 for the device, but is offering it to members of its Prime subscription program for $100.

Echo’s release comes as Amazon is struggling with its hardware business. Its tablet sales are declining and it recently had to write off $170 million worth of unsold Fire phones.

Despite those struggles, Amazon has continued to press forward in electronics. It recently released a new lineup of Fire tablets and also a new Fire TV streaming video device.

Photo of Amazon Echo courtesy of the company.



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  • Larry Cable

    My initial reaction? this will make the Fire Phone flop look like a raging success!

    WHAT is Bezos thinking? no wonder the stock is taking a beating, is it that Amazon wants to be Google?

    Focus on the core business, and stop wasting money and effort on pointless excursions creating solutions/products to problems that dont exist (e.g drones, phones, echo, TV shows) … or wont deliver incremental value to the company or its shareholders!

    Focus on being the best eCommerce Company and the #1 IaaS … if you have to compete with Google compete on your own, or new, territory not theirs.

    • Who Dat?

      Certainly, Amaflopzon has lost its identity. Trying to be everything for everybody is plain stupidity. What’s even more stupid are the ANAL-ysts that support the stock.

      Oh, what’s even more funny is how Goldman Sachs put Amaflopzon on “Conviction Buy List” right before it tanked. Lol. Reminds me of the price of crude oil prediction.