Amazon working on new Echo with better speakers in response to Apple HomePod

Posted:
in General Discussion
Apparently in response to Apple's HomePod announcement, Amazon is reportedly working on a new flagship Echo speaker that will improve on the original in virtually every respect.

The first-generation Echo.
The first-generation Echo.


The updated model will be "shorter and slimmer," akin to three or four stacked Echo Dots, Engadget said, citing a source on the matter. Despite this the speaker should offer better sound, using several tweeters instead of just one. The HomePod will sport seven tweeters when it ships this December.

Amazon is also said to be planning improved microphone technology, despite the current Echo using seven far-field mics -- the HomePod will have six. One possibility is that the company is simply working on software and/or hardware refinements.

Design-wise, Amazon is said to be rounding the speaker's edges and adding cloth-like material. This should align the product with the look of both the HomePod and the Google Home.

Apple's HomePod.
Apple's HomePod.


Pricing is so far unknown, and the Engadget source noted that design could change by the time the product ships this fall. If Amazon can stick to a $180 price tag, it will retain at least one advantage over the HomePod, which will sell for $349.

Apple is aiming at a high-end audio market, however, looking to compete as much against Sonos products as the Echo and Home. The device will feature Siri support, and double as a HomeKit hub.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 31
    macxpressmacxpress Posts: 4,789member
    I'd like to see how Amazon can match the HomePod in features and keep the same $180 price tag. If they want to retain the $180 price tag, something will have to suffer.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 31
    macxpress said:
    I'd like to see how Amazon can match the HomePod in features and keep the same $180 price tag. If they want to retain the $180 price tag, something will have to suffer.
    Shouldn't be too much of an issue, given Amazon doesn't need any profit margin. The Echo serves mainly as a hook to get people into the Amazon ecosystem. Same as all their tablets. They were selling the cheapest tablet for $30 on Prime Day. That shows how much they care about profit from hardware.

  • Reply 3 of 31
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 20,281member
    sog35 said:
    macxpress said:
    I'd like to see how Amazon can match the HomePod in features and keep the same $180 price tag. If they want to retain the $180 price tag, something will have to suffer.
    Shouldn't be too much of an issue, given Amazon doesn't need any profit margin. The Echo serves mainly as a hook to get people into the Amazon ecosystem. Same as all their tablets. They were selling the cheapest tablet for $30 on Prime Day. That shows how much they care about profit from hardware.

    but there are limits to losses they will accept per unit.

    That's why the standard Echo isn't $99.
    Ah, you are assuming they are taking a loss on each unit. I don't believe they are. You underestimate how inexpensively electronic devices can be engineered and built. When they first started building the Echo it might have been more of a break-even, even a tiny loss (leader). Nowadays I personally suspect they manage a decent profit on 'em, tho probably not anywhere close to Apple's lofty segment-leading profit margins. 
    edited July 2017
  • Reply 4 of 31
    macxpress said:
    I'd like to see how Amazon can match the HomePod in features and keep the same $180 price tag. If they want to retain the $180 price tag, something will have to suffer.
    Shouldn't be too much of an issue, given Amazon doesn't need any profit margin. The Echo serves mainly as a hook to get people into the Amazon ecosystem. Same as all their tablets. They were selling the cheapest tablet for $30 on Prime Day. That shows how much they care about profit from hardware.

    That's not the full story. Amazon's tablets are absolute junk. I know. I have 4 them. Strictly for testing my apps with, and I hate everything about them.
    RobPalmer9watto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 31
    cpsrocpsro Posts: 2,449member
    Apparently in response to Apple's HomePod announcement, Amazon is reportedly working on a new flagship Echo speaker that will improve on the original in virtually every respect.
    Amazon, don't set the bar too low!
  • Reply 6 of 31
    It's unlikely Amazon's Echo response to the HomePod will have an onboard computer chip for audio processing. I think that chip makes all the difference in the HomePod. It's funny how even though the Amazon Echo is supposedly crushing the HomePod's market before it is even for sale, Amazon finds the need to build a better Echo. That's the one main thing about Jeff Bezos. He doesn't stop being aggressive which seems to be a failing of Apple. Jeff Bezos definitely wants that digital assistant market for his own.  With Apple pricing the HomePod at $349, Amazon will have no problem completely dominating the digital assistant market.

    What I also find amusing is hearing that the next Echo will have a cloth covering despite all the derisive comments about the HomePod becoming some cat's scratching post.  Some people are seriously retarded when it comes to design.  Cat's use all sorts of things as scratching posts, so it's stupid to design products as not to attract cats.
    edited July 2017
  • Reply 7 of 31
    macxpress said:
    I'd like to see how Amazon can match the HomePod in features and keep the same $180 price tag. If they want to retain the $180 price tag, something will have to suffer.
    Shouldn't be too much of an issue, given Amazon doesn't need any profit margin. The Echo serves mainly as a hook to get people into the Amazon ecosystem. Same as all their tablets. They were selling the cheapest tablet for $30 on Prime Day. That shows how much they care about profit from hardware.

    $30! OMG! I don't care how weak the Amazon Fire Tablet is, it's definitely worth more than $30. It's said the build quality is pretty good. I don't know how Amazon is able to do it. Amazon keeps selling things cheaper and Apple can only keep raising prices. How this can make Amazon more valuable than Apple is hard for me to grasp. It's a form of economics I never learned in school.
  • Reply 8 of 31
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 20,281member
    It's unlikely Amazon's Echo response to the HomePod will have an onboard computer chip for audio processing. I think that chip makes all the difference in the HomePod. 
    Yeah, there's really not a whole lot to the current one.

     -Texas Instruments DM3725 Digital Media Processor
     -250MB Samsung mobile DRAM -4GB Toshiba eMMC NAND flash storage chip
    -Qualcomm QCA6234 Dual-Band 802.11n and Bluetooth 4.0 chip
    -National Semiconductor (Texas Instruments) LP5523 Programmable LED Driver
    -Texas Instruments TLV320ADC3101 low-power, stereo audio analog-to-digital converter (ADC)
    -Texas Instruments TPS65910 integrated power-management IC
    edited July 2017
  • Reply 9 of 31
    theothergeofftheothergeoff Posts: 2,081member
    macxpress said:
    I'd like to see how Amazon can match the HomePod in features and keep the same $180 price tag. If they want to retain the $180 price tag, something will have to suffer.
    Shouldn't be too much of an issue, given Amazon doesn't need any profit margin. The Echo serves mainly as a hook to get people into the Amazon ecosystem. Same as all their tablets. They were selling the cheapest tablet for $30 on Prime Day. That shows how much they care about profit from hardware.

    In general, all consumer electronics drives to a commodity pricing tier [crap, good, better] pretty quick.   Amazon knows this, Apple knows this.  Google knows this.  Microsoft is learning this.   you can optimize your supply chain, assembly and sales chains, but in the end, everything becomes pretty much those 3 tiers.

    The difference is why you sell your hardware.

    Amazon sells cheap hardware and systems to get people into their transactional ecosystem, with the goal of  eventually getting a % of every $ spent on everything that has value in the universe.  It's the Visa Model (we make it easy to get what you want)  Car analogy: (they build a car that can drive just about everywhere, but if you go to their store, you just have to think about what you want, and it ends up in your trunk, and automatically pops out of the trunk and positions itself by your front door when you get home... and if you're at home, the car will listen to what you say, and tell another car to deliver the goods to the same door)

        their not-so-secret sauce... eliminating the friction between your desires and the sale.

    Apple sells high priced hardware and subsidizes the software development to build systems that can be infinitely integrated into other systems for seamless, enabling, user experience.  The want to change the world, and hence need more cash on hand to live through the long periods of non-change and the occasional mistakes (RAZR), but when the do deliver greatness, the rest of the world adapts to them or dies.   In the car model, they have made cars drivable at 200mph by mere mortals, and built an aftermarket so that car can be modified for $1.99 by a click of a button to customized experiences for each part of your driving live, and parts of your life that you didn't think had anything to do with driving ("my car can take pictures... my car knows where I am at).  On top of that, I can put a watch on and my car knows if it needs to drive me to the hospital or the gym).

       Apple's not so secret sauce... eliminating the frustration (dare say try to introduce 'joy') of using digital information to enhance your real life, but by solving your needs, not catering to your wants.

    Google gives away 'free information' in exchange for putting a indelible mark on the end user's digital soul, and selling curated access to that mark to the digital devils, in exchange for money.  They sell cheap hardware to ensure they are not shut out of the individual<->digital service delivery, because that is their Real product..  

    Google's not so secret sauce.   people want something for nothing, and are willing to give up their privacy and security to do so.

    (they sell cheap cars and give away free gas at their gas station(stolen from other gas stations), or minimally the path the gas station you want, but in doing so, they reprogram your car's radio and map for their paying customers, so even if you want Shell Gas, you're first 5 choices are something else).

    In the end.  the cheap cars will drive 200 miles per hour, all have apps, all have 8 gyros, and optional watches, or Matrix like BrainStem Implants (because hey, watch or brain stem implant, or even bulldozer skid steer controls , because some old school customers want interchangeable choice [right, Microsoft?]), all will start with a press of your fingerprint (or the dashboard recognizes you)...  and they will sell because there are a vast majority of people who don't care or can't afford a better car.

    And Apple will then make the 500mph car, and after ten years of not innovating will make self-driving planes that fly 600mph (too slow) 40,000 ft (too low), and only carry 4 passengers (Lame!),  but 2 years later the Series 2 comes out flying at mach2, has a robotic flight attendant, and then   all the ultralights and commuter airlines go out of business.  And someone complains about the solar charging  requiring you to fly above the clouds, and ask for replaceable batteries, because Samsung planes have them.


    anantksundarambrucemc
  • Reply 10 of 31
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 20,281member
    macxpress said:
    I'd like to see how Amazon can match the HomePod in features and keep the same $180 price tag. If they want to retain the $180 price tag, something will have to suffer.
    Shouldn't be too much of an issue, given Amazon doesn't need any profit margin. The Echo serves mainly as a hook to get people into the Amazon ecosystem. Same as all their tablets. They were selling the cheapest tablet for $30 on Prime Day. That shows how much they care about profit from hardware.

    In general, all consumer electronics drives to a commodity pricing tier [crap, good, better] pretty quick.   Amazon knows this, Apple knows this.  Google knows this.  Microsoft is learning this.   you can optimize your supply chain, assembly and sales chains, but in the end, everything becomes pretty much those 3 tiers.

    The difference is why you sell your hardware.
    It's nice to think that huge tech companies are simply trying to do what's best for us. In truth at the end of the day they're all in business for the same reason: Make as much money as they can and spend as little as they can get by with to do that. It's a simple explanation.
  • Reply 11 of 31
    SoliSoli Posts: 8,678member
    macxpress said:
    I'd like to see how Amazon can match the HomePod in features and keep the same $180 price tag. If they want to retain the $180 price tag, something will have to suffer.
    It seems doable, to me. They started out with a single product at that price that had to pay to R&D and with a zero installed base and zero competition. Now they've established themselves, likely long paid off their initial investment, and can price their device more competitively so even if they simply switched out the current speakers with new ones and a new casing with everything else staying the same with 3 year old components which have also surely dropped in price, they could easily offer something better.

    But I don't think they'll do that. I expect it'll be more costly but still far undercut HomePod.
  • Reply 12 of 31
    SoliSoli Posts: 8,678member
    I remember at least one person saying the Echo was poorly designed and used its array of far-field mics as proof. I believe they also stated that Apple would never do such a thing yet I think HomePod has one more far-field mic than the Echo.
  • Reply 13 of 31
    SoliSoli Posts: 8,678member
    Amazon is doing something that Apple will likely never do. Amazon is partnering with other device makers to get Alexa and FireTV built into their devices. Most notably Element/Westinghouse and Sony TVs at the moment. I think it's likely that these devices will be able to connect to one or more Echo devices for wireless surround sound and voice commands using the Alexa wake word.
    tallest skil
  • Reply 14 of 31
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,399member
    Leave it to Apple, once again, to force others in an industry to stop putting out shit.
    Soli said:
    Amazon is partnering with other device makers to get Alexa and FireTV built into their devices. Most notably Element/Westinghouse and Sony TVs at the moment.
    That's good to know; now I know to avoid those companies when making a purchase. This 'always on microphone' trend is exceedingly disturbing.
    edited July 2017 macxpressSpamSandwichpscooter63watto_cobrajcs2305
  • Reply 15 of 31
    SoliSoli Posts: 8,678member
    This 'always on microphone' trend is exceedingly disturbing.
    I'm sure it is for those that lack even a rudimentary understanding of technology.
    macky the macky
  • Reply 16 of 31
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,399member
    Soli said:
    I'm sure it is for those that lack even a rudimentary understanding of technology.
    Okay, Nixon; whatever you say.  :p
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 31
    eightzeroeightzero Posts: 2,291member
    The comments regarding hardware being used to hook into an ecosystem have merit. Amazon's ecosystem dwarfs Apple's. I expect Amazon to continue to drop their hardware prices, and I'll not be surprised to see them free soon. Yes, free. A device where you can spend money in their store at a whim and in an instant, and that is always on? Genius. I think you'll see "buy an echo/dot/tablet/thingy and it comes with coupons for other merchandise to offset the cost." A $30 fire thingy with a dozen free ebooks of my choosing? Sure. Read the books, then recycle the thing. Or maybe...you go buy more ebooks.

    Apple wants to sell music. I don't consume much of that. But I can't remember the last time I went "shopping" in a store. Prime killed that for me. 

  • Reply 18 of 31
    lorin schultzlorin schultz Posts: 2,638member
    Apple is aiming at a high-end audio market
    Is is? How? With what?

    Or is a little wireless speaker what we consider "high-end audio" now? I'm not being a smart-ass, I'm checking if my understanding of the phrase differs from the average tech consumer.

    I don't doubt the HomePod will sound better than an Echo -- hell, it can hardly miss -- and I totally get the concept of trading sonic accuracy for size and convenience, but I think calling it "high-end audio" devalues products from companies that work painstakingly to make speakers that sound as close to real life as possible.
    gatorguyroundaboutnowpscooter63
  • Reply 19 of 31
    SoliSoli Posts: 8,678member
    Apple is aiming at a high-end audio market
    Is is? How? With what?

    Or is a little wireless speaker what we consider "high-end audio" now? I'm not being a smart-ass, I'm checking if my understanding of the phrase differs from the average tech consumer.

    I don't doubt the HomePod will sound better than an Echo -- hell, it can hardly miss -- and I totally get the concept of trading sonic accuracy for size and convenience, but I think calling it "high-end audio" devalues products from companies that work painstakingly to make speakers that sound as close to real life as possible.
    For a 'digital personal assistance" it's going to be the highest-end speaker system available for the time being, but that's beside the point. Remember that these devices are connected and you through all sorts of wireless speaker systems at them.


    In fact, you can have your iPhone connected to the Echo and your Echo connected to wireless speakers or some audio(/video)hub that accepts wireless signals and has wired or wireless speakers. I figure Amazon, Apple, and others will be capitalizing on this with how we interact with and use our televisions in the near future.


    PS: The one think that doesn't exist yet is being able to buy an Echo product just for its microphones which will then relay to my Echo and its speakers. For example, the Echo is amazing in how can use normal talk, and even mumble while practically whispering from across the room as you walk through one room to another while half asleep. I will usually play music or some spoken word like a Podcast or Howard on SiriusXM in the morning, but almost always call that out from the bathroom. The speakers penetrate fine from the other rooms, but with the water rushing in the bathroom I do have to speak up a little louder and aim my voice to get Alexa to understand me. Frankly I'm impressed it can even hear me at all. Anyway, I wish I could like an Echo Dot to only be the microphone in the bathroom to relay to the other Echo and speakers from that room, but as it stands I'll likely have to buy another Echo Dot and add a BT speaker since the Dot doesn't have a great speaker for music, unlike the Echo proper which has good sound 9although there are audiophiles on here that will say that unless I spend over $100k on overpriced speaker that it would cause their ears to bleed).
    kevin kee
  • Reply 20 of 31
    kevin keekevin kee Posts: 989member
    gatorguy said:
    macxpress said:
    I'd like to see how Amazon can match the HomePod in features and keep the same $180 price tag. If they want to retain the $180 price tag, something will have to suffer.
    Shouldn't be too much of an issue, given Amazon doesn't need any profit margin. The Echo serves mainly as a hook to get people into the Amazon ecosystem. Same as all their tablets. They were selling the cheapest tablet for $30 on Prime Day. That shows how much they care about profit from hardware.

    In general, all consumer electronics drives to a commodity pricing tier [crap, good, better] pretty quick.   Amazon knows this, Apple knows this.  Google knows this.  Microsoft is learning this.   you can optimize your supply chain, assembly and sales chains, but in the end, everything becomes pretty much those 3 tiers.

    The difference is why you sell your hardware.
    It's nice to think that huge tech companies are simply trying to do what's best for us. In truth at the end of the day they're all in business for the same reason: Make as much money as they can and spend as little as they can get by with to do that. It's a simple explanation.
    That's one way to explain it, but nothing is as black and white. There is always a fifty shade of grey in between - pun  intended.
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