Amazon is expanding its Alexa-powered range of smart home Echo devices to Asian markets, starting with India, which is also its fastest-growing marketplace. The e-commerce giant has made, for starters, three products available in the country – the entry-level Echo Dot, Echo, and Echo Plus. These will be available initially on an invite-basis, requests for which you can drop here.
The most affordable Amazon Echo Dot is priced at Rs. 4,499 (roughly $69). It comes with all the usual Alexa trappings. However, you will have to live with a relatively meager sound quality. Next up, the Echo will be available for Rs 9,999. It’s louder and features much better hardware for listening to your commands and responding to them. Lastly, the Echo Plus is a significantly larger device and can also act as a hub for the rest of your smart home gadgets. It is priced at Rs. 14,999. Amazon India will begin shipping the Echo speakers in the country starting the week of October 30.
For the uninitiated, Amazon’s Echo line of products is essentially voice-controlled smart speakers that are capable of answering questions, performing actions like playing music, and controlling other compatible devices. The devices come integrated with the company’s far-field technology and can be invoked by simply saying ‘Alexa’ from across the room.
Amazon also says “eligible customers” will be able to benefit from an introductory offer that would slash 30 percent off the price of any Echo smart speaker. In addition to that, the company is also bundling a year-long Prime membership. Surprisingly, post the invite-only period, you will also be able to purchase these devices in certified offline stores, including Croma, Reliance Digital, and a few more.
Early buyers will have complimentary access to the company’s forthcoming Prime Music streaming service in India as well. Apart from updating the catalog with Indian content, Amazon mentions this service will be exclusively available at no charge to Prime members.
Furthermore, Amazon has customized its personal assistant, Alexa, for the Indian market. It supports local pronunciations and intonations and understands domestic names, music titles, and places in regional languages. The company has partnered with various Indian developers for adding a range of country-specific skills such as music streaming from Saavn, cricket updates from ESPNcricinfo, taxi service from Ola and Uber, and others. As of now, a total of 10,000 will be accessible to customers in India.
“Tens of millions of customers are already using Alexa, and today we’re excited to bring her to India with an all-new experience designed from the ground up for our customers in India,” said Dave Limp, Senior Vice President, Amazon Devices, and Services. “The combination of Alexa and Echo provides customers with hands-free access to music, weather, news, information, and more—just ask.”