Amazon Echo is now available for pre-order to anyone in the US. Up to this point, the voice-controlled connected speaker was only available via invite.
The e-commerce giant unveiled Echo in November 2014 to the surprise of many. The cylindrical device is perhaps best described as a personal assistant for the home. Through voice commands, Echo can look up answers to general knowledge questions, play music, create to-do lists, set alarms, tell jokes and even order products on your behalf.
Amazon is no stranger to in-house hardware but that doesn’t mean everything it has put out has been a success. The company’s Kindle line, for example, is a proven winner while last year’s Fire Phone was a colossal flop. Bezos and company took a $170 million write-off on the device and ultimately resorted to selling it at a huge discount to help offload excess inventory.
It’s too early to know for sure the level of success Amazon will have with Echo although it’s hard not to view the device as a stepping stone or a test bed for something bigger.
Amazon has already confirmed it is working on a second version of its ill-fated Fire Phone. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Alexa (the name of Echo’s voice assistant) integrated into its next smartphone and eventually find its way to the Kindle line.
Amazon Echo will set you back $179.99 and will begin shipping from July 14.