Amazon Announces a Smart Home Tsunami

Posted on September 20, 2018 by Paul Thurrott in Smart Home with 50 Comments

New Echo Dot

Today, Amazon revealed that it is dramatically increasing the number of Alexa-powered smart home devices it sells.

“We’ve been thinking about how to make Alexa more natural,” Amazon’s David Limp said at the announcement, joking that the firm would announce “seventy new things.”

That wasn’t far off, as it turns out.

Here’s what Amazon announced.

Echo Dot. The second-generation Echo Dot is big for Amazon because this device has been what Amazon calls its “best-selling [smart] speaker ever.” And it is indeed much more attractive, with a nice fabric cover and an improved speaker. And it is available in multiple colors, too. It will still cost $50 when it arrives in October.

Echo Input

Echo Input. Amazon’s answer to the Google Chromecast Audio is a small disc-shaped device that you can attach to any powered speakers. It will cost $35 and will ship next month.

Echo Sub (with Echo Plus)

Echo Sub. This 10-inch subwoofer can work with any Echo speakers and can create a 2.1-speaker system that pairs two other Echos with the Sub. It provides deep bass sound, as you’d expect, and features the same fabric covering found on the new Dot. It will cost $130.

Echo Link and Echo Amp Link. These two receivers (one with its own amplifier) provide multiple audio inputs and outputs, plus Ethernet. Echo Link will ship later this year and cost $200. And Echo Link Amp will ship early next year and cost $300.

New Echo Plus

Echo Plus. This new Echo device includes a smart home hub, the new fabric design, better bass and overall sound, and a new temperature sensor. It will cost $150 and ship next month.

Amazon Smart Plug

Amazon Smart Plug. This $25 device plugs into a power receptacle and … is a smart plug. You get the idea. It ships next month.

Amazon Basics Microwave

Amazon Basics Microwave. This table-top microwave is Alexa-powered and supports voice commands, and it has built-in Dash replenishment capabilities (for food, presumably). It will cost only $60 and will ship later this year.

Echo Wall Clock

Echo Wall Clock. This analog clock also includes LED lights around the rim so that you can visually see Alexa-based timers (from other devices) counting down. It will cost $30.

Ring Stick Up Cam. This new entry in the Ring family of security devices comes in both wired and battery-powered versions and adds access control for compatible Schlage, Yale, Kwikset, and Danalock locks. It will cost $180 and ship later this year. (Amazon purchased Ring earlier this year.)

New Echo Show

Echo Show. The second-generation Echo Show is a bit more attractive than its angular predecessor. It features a bigger 10-inch display and includes vastly improved sound and a fabric-covered back. And it will include Skype compatibility for video calls (!). It will cost $230.

Fire TV Recast

Fire TV Recast. This new living room set-top box will stream HD antenna-based TV shows to any Fire TV in your home. It can record up to four shows and stream to multiple Fire TVs at once.

Echo Auto

Echo Auto. Amazon’s first automobile smart device is basically a smart speaker (not a display) for the car. It has 8 microphones and will cost $50 normally, but Amazon is now offering a $25 “invite price” for early adopters who sign-up this year.

And … wow. Lot’s to discuss here, and that’s just the hardware. Amazon also announced tons of improvements to its software and services, too. So I’ll have a deeper analysis piece by tomorrow.


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Comments (50)

50 responses to “Amazon Announces a Smart Home Tsunami”

  1. markld

    My parents, mom, 87, and my dad, 90, purchased an Echo Spot and a Ring Doorbell 2 months ago.

    The Echo Spot has been a hit as it's amazing watching my mom asking or interacting with it. Because of Parkinsons she can't hold even a smartphone.

    I really appreciate these devices.

  2. Stooks

    Exactly none of that interests me.

    it is going to be a long bloody road until we reach any kind of real IOT standards.

    Mother earth is weeping about all of the useless e-waste that will be created by all of this soon to be abandoned proprietary limited IOT junk.

  3. Daekar

    I cannot imagine a world where I would want to infect simple devices like these with the complexity inherent in a smart device. A microwave, really!?

    I guess I'm just an old curmudgeon, but not a single thing on that list is something I'm interested in. We don't even use the Chromecast we have, let alone anything else like that. The most frequently-used device we've got aside from our phones and PCs (we use our phones for almost everything) is a Bose bluetooth speaker, and half the time it's because we move it around or take it outside.

    OK, I left one thing out. When my schedule isn't too crazy I do use my Nintendo Switch a lot.

    • VancouverNinja

      In reply to Daekar:

      Alexa is good for music and shopping. Cortana is excellent for work and music too.

      Voice AI is nascent and all Amazon and Google are doing is trying to win by flooding the market with a bunch of gizmos that will be completely useless in a matter of years.

      If you are using Windows 10 and Office 365 make sure you set up all the permissions for Cortana to assist you and you will get an email every day of reminders from it. It is very good. Microsoft's approach is similar to the story of the tortoise (MS) and the hare (Google/Alexa); they are actually delivering quality solutions that are meaningful. I have fallen in love with the GLAS thermostat - the extra capability to see Volatile Organic Compounds in our air and Carbon Dioxide levels is a game changer. We have dramatically improved the quality of our Air over the last several weeks as a result. These are the things I want from AI and Microsoft is delivering them.

  4. red.radar

    The Fire-Recast is going on pre-order. that thing will replace a Tivo on lifetime Sub that needs more storage anyways.

    The form Factor is perfect for my network. Place it close to the antenna which will get the best reception and distribute the content via the network. Really excited about this product.

    Only thing the Tivo will excel at is the better form factor for the remote.

  5. Alexander Rothacker

    I find the Fire TV Recast the biggest surprise. An OTA TV DVR device so far was a niche product by a few small companies, like Silicon Dust and TabloTV. This is not the type of device that one would think a company like Amazon would build. This could be one of those examples where they used their data from being the premier platform for selling these devices as a decision tool. Good thing the EU is starting to look into this.

    • red.radar

      In reply to earlster:

      Is that really a competition issue? Any company can go to a third party marketing organization and buy analytics that tell them what products sell. Why can't Amazon use their own data to understand how to reach customers with their own hardware offerings?

      I don't see that as clear cut competitive violation.

      Now if Amazon buries the competition in the search results ... thats a different matter.

      • Chris_Kez

        In reply to red.radar:

        No third party data is going to be anywhere as good as Amazon's first party data. And Amazon gets it for free. It is a huge competitive advantage. One small example: Amazon is able to change prices instantly and infinitely based on actual real-time sales data for not only their products but their competitors'.

      • Alexander Rothacker

        In reply to red.radar:

        Sure, there are other ways to get business intelligence. However I have to imagine that the detail of Amazon's data is significantly better then what you can buy.

        They see what people are searching for, and then how and when they buy. What pricing would be best, and they can adjust their prices on the fly to undercut their competitors, etc.

        • geschinger

          In reply to earlster:

          Other than being larger how does the practice differ at all from Costco, Wal-Mart or any othe store using the data they collect from their shoppers and deciding to make house brand versions of the products that sell well?

    • maethorechannen

      In reply to earlster:

      This is not the type of device that one would think a company like Amazon would build.

      You could say that about the original Echo.

  6. Illusive_Man

    Amazon shows what happens when you remain dedicated to your platform and give people the things they want and quickly. Microsoft should have flooded the market early on with Cortana devices. The ship has sailed.

  7. Bats

    The Microwave looks interesting!!!

    The Smart Plug at $25? That's too much. I use the TP Smart Plugs for about $15-$17 and they are great.

    Amazon should make dimmable lightbulbs. one though.

  8. chrisrut

    (Writing this on my Surface Go from my Hotel room in Munich)

    A while back I observed that the various AIs have distinctly different "personalities;" they have a different "feel," much as individuals would.

    After a few weeks with Google on my new Fi device, while there are some great things there for getting around (for example, navigating Munich, which I last visited 35 years ago) has been great. But I find it intrusive, and in some regards, not performing up to expectation. For example, back home, Google navigation chooses routes that are woefully wrong, for example insisting on making left turns onto very busy roads at rush hour... a case where AI=GS (genuine stupidity).

    Alexa on the other hand has become a friend in our living space via 2 generations of Fire-TV devices. And here we stand, on the verge of replacing our older receiver and amp etc. with newer devices... and this new Amazon product line seems to fit our next acquisition cycle perfectly. As an old Product Manager, I see this as an indication that Amazon does indeed have a pretty good feel for product lifecycles, and more importantly for "penetration rates;" the rate at which new ideas penetrate a market's consciousness. That is, having experienced a couple of generations of devices, we're finally ready to move away from older technology on several fronts, just when Amazon is offering products to extend exactly those domains.

    A smart microwave? I dunno. But that smart wall clock in my kitchen, YES. And that OTA box... YES. And the subwoofer, YES, And that recast device? Bravo Amazon, Bravo!

    One thing: my son has been dating a girl named Alexa, which has caused numerous funny situations. So, I ask: when will the Assistant-makers allow us to rename our assistants to something of our own choosing? Jeeves? Frodo?

  9. Tony Barrett

    Wow. Echo overload or what. I assume Amazon are feeling the heat from Google, so are flooding the market with 'Echo' products to compensate. What are Amazon really attempting to do here though? Is it just a case of having every conceivable device made 'Smart' - but for what purpose for them? People aren't really using Echo to order from Amazon - which was the whole point originally. I get it may spur Prime and Amazon Music subscriptions, but is that enough? Amazon don't really provide any other 'Echo' services, so is it a case of Echo devices for the sake of Echo devices? I get you can integrate other smart home devices with Echo, but you can with Google Home too, and that has a massive mobile ecosystem behind it, especially with Google Assistant appearing everywhere too.

    Just what is Amazon's end game plan here? Maybe with that many devices out there, Amazon just assume it will lead to increased retail sales, but there's nothing convincing to say it will.

  10. Patrick3D

    The microwave is 700 watts, which if you have never used a 700 watt microwave, you basically have to double the time to cook anything in it and even then the food comes out with a different texture than you would get with a proper 1,100 watt microwave.

    I do want to buy the Echo Input assuming it is significantly cheaper than a Dot. I love my Echo Dot but would like to add Alexa voice controlled music streaming to my PC without the unnecessary built-in speaker.

    I've also signed up for the Echo Auto invite, fingers crossed, it looks like exactly what I need for my hands-free driving needs. $25 is a lot better than the $200-$600 that Carplay costs to add to a car. I don't need a screen, that's what the phone is for, I just need Alexa and an array of microphones, this looks perfect.

    It would be nice to see Brad or Paul try the Echo Show for a FRD to see how the quality compares to a regular computer setup.

  11. Jeffsters

    It’s the data!!!!!!!

  12. North of 49th

    I would love to have been at the table when the brand manager was walking through who the demographic for each of these products is for. If you were Amazon Finance, each of these products would have to have had a business case for its creation.

    Now that they are introduced, I would love to sit at the Google Marketing table to see them figure out how they should respond.

  13. dcdevito

    I think the Echo product as a whole is on the decline. Google is going to eat its lunch. I think having too many products, in this case, is a bad thing and will only confuse the average consumer. Seems a bit desperate

  14. locust infested orchard inc

    Quote by Paul, "Amazon Announces a Smart Home Tsunami"

    A tsunami of utter pointless tat.

    Products for the home that serves no purpose and should not require to be connected 24×7 to the internet.

    IoT devices are renowned for their poor security, and ought to vetted by security professionals to certify they are safe from intrusions. As with anything, nothing is 100% secure, but these devices ought to be designed with security in mind, for security is paramount when connecting to the rogue net.

    So I'll stick to my dumb lighting, dumb speakers, dumb microwave, thank you very much.

    • Tony Barrett

      In reply to locust infested orchard inc:

      It is true. Most of it is pointless tat. What do most people use a smart speaker for? Playing music and finding out the weather. That's it. The rest of these products are just a waste. As Amazon will be unlikely to be making any money on the actual item, they obviously have high hopes these will drive retail sales!

      • locust infested orchard inc

        In reply to ghostrider:

        Amazon didn't become the second company ever to be worth a trillion dollars by luck. Jeff Bezos knows anything that can coerce people to flock to his site will boost sales.

        So with these new cheap-and-cheerful home automation devices, most likely sold at below the per unit cost of manufacturing, as Bezos did with the Fire tablet, he hopes to lure people to come to Amazon to buy any one or more of these gimmicky products, in the hope they'll browse around and purchase other things too. And once one has purchased from Amazon, one keeps making the repeat sale.

        Bezos knows and understands the human psychology of consumer purchasing and consumption, and he is playing it adeptly.

        Amazon is gonna get massively bigger still, and it will surpass Apple's market capitalisation sooner or later, once the iSheeple have found another company's toy to idolise.

      • Stooks

        In reply to ghostrider:

        I would say, after the initial play with the device period (1-2 weeks) that 98.89756% people use it only for music. In my house that is what happened. The 1-2 week period was our kids and even they got bored with it.

    • Daekar

      In reply to locust infested orchard inc:

      You might have a lot of downvotes, but you're not wrong.

      • FalseAgent

        In reply to Daekar:

        This community has gone downhill real fast. Anyone who dares to post any opinion that doesn't fall in line with popular tech blogosphere narrative will be downvoted.

        • locust infested orchard inc

          In reply to FalseAgent:

          I agree with your sentiments FalseAgent, but it is to be expected, seeing the tide of hate with a mere down-vote or thumbs-down across the social media platforms.

          This is how fake news and poor/ill-advised opinion spreads like wild fire, with unaware netizens accepting the truth based upon the mass of bot-activated thumbs-up particularly on both Twatter and Fakebook.

          The Turk and Russian administration are renowned for infiltrating social media with 'good'/pro-goverment/propaganda material to fuel whatever interest they wish to broadcast, regardless of the truthfulness of the news portrayed.

          If one speaks the truth, which is what I did in my initial comment regarding security, one gets down-voted. As the unattributed saying goes, "If you repeat a lie often enough, it becomes the truth.". So it seems Jeff Bezos and his board of directors have probably descended onto in an attempt to silence my frank and true assessment by down-voting me.

      • locust infested orchard inc

        In reply to Daekar:

        I appreciate you standing up against the tide of down-voters, and agreeing with me.

        Have an up-vote from me.

        Thanks for vocalising your support.

  15. bart

    The Skype integration on the Echo Show surprises me. Or maybe not, as Microsoft can use the 3rd party API’s to bring its service to another platform

  16. marshalltm

    A pedantic point, but it is the third generation echo dot.

  17. Grant

    The "Echo Input" is a great addition. Better than Chromecast because you can talk to it and it "rebirths" all dumb speakers without costing too much. Ring stuff is coming along but, would be great to get PIP on the TV for the doorbell and cams. Will be staying with Alexa for some time for sure!

  18. jchampeau

    Speaking of pointless tat...

    • locust infested orchard inc

      In reply to jchampeau:

      Feel free to hook up your fridge, toaster, iron, shower, washing machine, dish washer, air-con, electric blanket, oven, lawn mover, hedge trimmer, treadmill, etc to the internet, only for them to get pwned and run amok in your own home.

      It would be far more prudent to take the element of security seriously before investing in products that have had almost no vulnerability testing performed.

      Your futile attempt to deride my comment clearly shows your disregard and apathy for matters related to security.

  19. FalseAgent

    Never thought that i'd want a smart wall clock until now. Being able to set an alarm on it via the cloud is indeed legit.

    I still don't like how Amazon is able to just sell a lot of these at a loss, seems like an abuse of market power.