Home Technology Amazon subverts the Echo Dot with the $40 Echo Pop

Amazon subverts the Echo Dot with the $40 Echo Pop

by Ana Lopez
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You know the old saying: If you don’t like Amazon Echo’s form factors, wait a few minutes. The company has seemingly tried everything to get Alexa into more homes. Some have stood the test of time, while others have been lost in the sands of time. Remember the Amazon Tap? The echo look? What about the Echo Spot (I really liked that one), Plus, and Loop? (I write about this stuff for a living, and I completely forgot that the company made an Alexa Ring.) Some outlived their usefulness, some were cannibalized by various products, and some never made much sense to begin with.

The release cadence seems to have slowed a bit since the years when the Big Mouth company dropped Billy Basses on our heads, but reports of the division’s demise seem somewhat exaggerated for now. This morning the company announced upgrades to existing devices and a new device in the form of the Echo Pop, a unidirectional smart speaker that takes up roughly the same space as its perennial favorite, the Echo Dot.

Image Credits: Amazon

Products like the Echo Dot and Google Home Mini are designed to get their respective smart assistants through the door. The cost is low enough that you should consider buying one for the sole purpose of serving as a cheap wireless speaker. Whatever the marketing materials may say (I see the phrase “great sound” used so much that it has lost all meaning), most people who buy one are under no illusions that they are getting a top-notch audiophile experience (I hope) .

Once it’s in place, you might as well ask Alexa to play some music for you. And maybe a weather forecast. Oh, and that smart bulb from your cousin that you talk to once a year you got for Christmas – you can control that too. Then you wake up one morning and there are 50 Echo devices in your house, including three in the bathroom.

Image Credits: Amazon

At $40, the Pop undercuts the Dot by $10 — not an insignificant portion of the products’ total cost. Although the company denies that the product will replace Dot and/or Dot With Clock. However, The Pop seems destined to cannibalize its market share. In terms of form factor, it looks like someone split a Dot in half and supported the directional speaker. It’s available in black, white, lavender, and teal (the latter of which are both new to the line).

Between the price, form factor and colors, it seems like Amazon is targeting a younger audience than the standard Echo fare – albeit a little more mature than the new Echo Show 5 Kids. Teenagers look like the primary demo along with college kids moving into the dormitory. It could be the cheapest standalone entry point to a large smart home ecosystem. The familiar blue Echo Dot light ring is truncated and sits just above the speaker mesh to let you know when Alexa is listening. The Pop runs on Amazon’s own AZ2 chip and has built-in Eero support, so it doubles as a range extender.

Image Credits: Amazon

The Pop was announced this morning alongside a flurry of product innovations, including updates to Echo Show 5, Echo Buds, and Echo Auto. Sarah spoke to SVP Rohit Prasad about the future of Alexa, in light of a recent roundup of 2,000 people from the company’s device division. “Unlike some of the things that have been written, it was very small in context,” the exec said. “In terms of our roadmap and our belief, Alexa is one of the biggest investments at Amazon and our belief has only grown – especially in this day and age of how exciting AI is and what quantitatively different, better and more useful Alexa can be for our customers. “

Generative AI was top of mind, of course, with all the recent hype around systems like ChatGPT and Bard. Amazon has already reviewed its own work in the space, and it’s easy to see how conversational prompts could push Alexa into the future. But it also gets to a point where the smart assistant seems to be struggling from the outside. “I am very optimistic that… the AI ​​progress will be huge, but we are actually contributing to the Amazon businesses,” Prasad added. “And I believe Alexa is well on its way to becoming that personal AI – which will also be a successful business for us.”

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