Amazon’s Next Echo Will Look Like a Tablet, But Won’t Be One
Here’s a sign of just how far the tablet market has fallen: Bloomberg reports that what is arguably Amazon’s next tablet is not going to be called a tablet:
Amazon.com Inc. is developing a premium Echo-like speaker with a screen, a sign the world’s largest online retailer is trying to capitalize on the surprise success of its voice-controlled home gadgets and fend off competition from Google and Apple Inc.
The new device will have a touchscreen measuring about seven inches, a major departure from Amazon’s existing cylindrical home devices that are controlled and respond mostly through the company’s voice-based Alexa digital assistant, according to two people familiar with the matter. This will make it easier to access content such as weather forecasts, calendar appointments, and news, the people said. They asked not to be identified speaking about a product that has yet to be announced.
The latest Amazon speaker will be larger and tilt upwards so the screen can be seen when it sits on a counter and the user is standing, one of the people said.
High-grade speakers will make the gadget sound much better than current Echo devices, this person also said. Amazon’s new device is scheduled to be announced as soon as the first quarter of 2017, this person added. Amazon, based in Seattle, Washington, declined to comment.
Aside from the quality of the speakers, Bloomberg pretty much described Amazon’s current tablets. They got Alexa in a recent update, and while I’m told they don’t support all Alexa features they do come close.
But not close enough for Amazon, apparently.
No, the Seattle retailer also wants the new device to carry the Echo brand and share its focus on voice activation and home automation. The current Fire tablets are more media devices than anything, and the Fire brand limits both how people think of the gadgets as well as how much Amazon can charge for them.