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Amazon Echo Arrives in February

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By Published On: January 18, 20180 Comments

It’s official. Amazon’s echo range of smart speakers is on its way to Australia and New Zealand as the e-commerce giant begins preorders for its “early February” local launch.

The Echo, Echo Dot and Echo Plus will be available for preorder at early bird prices on amazon.com.au as of Thursday, and the devices will begin shipping in early February, according to Amazon. They will also be available at JB Hi-Fi, Officeworks, Myer and Telstra.

“Tens of millions of customers are already using Alexa, and today we’re excited to bring her to Australia with a localised experience designed for our Australian customers,” 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.”

The ability to place shopping orders via Amazon’s new Australian online store, however, will not be available for online shoppers until later on, with Limp saying the feature will come “in the course of time”. For now though, customers will be able to check up on the delivery status of the online orders they place on amazon.com.au.

Alexa is the brain that powers Amazon’s smart speaker Echo – she works via voice recognition, with the ability to understand natural language spoken and she listens for her name before responding to requests. The Echo devices will be localised for Australia, from Alexa sounding like an Aussie or Kiwi, to recognising our various local accents, as well as providing local news bulletins, weather forecasts, sports scores and surf reports.

Users of the Echo devices will also have access to over 10,000 third-party “skills” in Australia, which are similar to what apps are to your phone, which includes those developed by local brands from booking an Uber, to preparing dinner with the help of recipes from Taste.com.au, checking travel details and getting loyalty program updates from Qantas, or checking your account balance with Westpac or NAB.

Amazon Echo Arrives in Australia February Alexa

From left: Echo Plus, Echo and Echo Dot

The smart home devices will also enable users to create or check calendars, set times or alarms, set reminders, create to-do lists, play music, control other smart home devices including lights, thermostats, smart plugs, and switches from brands including Philips Hue, Telstra Smart Home, LIFX, TP-link and Harmony, and more.

Although Echo’s rival Google Home has had a six-month head start in Australia, arriving last year, and while Apple’s Siri which predates Alexa by three years–Alexa still remain the pioneer when it comes to smart speaker technology, with the device experiencing rapid growth in the smart home market.

Amazon has also announced Amazon Music Unlimited, rivals of Spotify and Apple Music, will go live locally on 1st February, costing $1.99 per month, or a family plan will set you back $17.99 which allows up to six members on an account. There’s also a $4.99 option which lets consumers stream Amazon Music Unlimited from a single Echo device.

Amazon will be selling its Echo speakers at introductory prices of $49 (normally $79) for the Dot, $119 (normally $149) for the Echo and $199 for the Plus 9Normally $229). Amazon Music Unlimited also has an introductory deal, with the company offering a free 90-day trial period, triple the standard 30-day trial period.

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