Amazon prepping Alexa-enabled AirPods rival for release in 2019

Posted:
in iPhone edited April 4
Amazon is reportedly creating an Alexa-enabled set of fully wireless earbuds that could pose competition for Apple's AirPods.

Apple's second-gen AirPods in the Wireless Charging Case.
Apple's second-gen AirPods in the Wireless Charging Case.


The buds will have Alexa built-in and ship as soon as the second half of 2019, Bloomberg sources said on Thursday. They're expected to "look and act similar" to AirPods, complete with a charging case, but feature a stronger focus on audio fidelity. Black and gray colors may be on offer.

Both Apple and Android devices should be supported, which could increase the buds' appeal. AirPods technically work with Android but lack key functions on that platform.

Most common Alexa commands should work, such as music, weather and even Amazon orders. There will also be gesture commands, for instance tapping to answer calls or switch songs.

The project is said to be one of the most important at Amazon's Lab126 hardware division, yet it has been saddled with delays. One source indicated that Amazon has been searching for suppliers and manufacturers in recent months.

Fully wireless earbuds are now a de facto part of the headphone industry in no small part because of AirPods. Estimates suggest Apple's product accounted for 60 percent of all fully wireless earbud sales in the December quarter, with Jabra's fitness-focused Elite Active 65t coming a distant second. Apple recently announced its own all-wireless fitness option, the $249 Powerbeats Pro.

Amazon could use price to eat into Apple's marketshare. The company is known for undercutting competitors on hardware, since it can easily turn a profit through services.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 10
    entropysentropys Posts: 1,648member
    Wouldn’t be surprised if they turn out to be updated Bragi earphones. The company was recently mysteriously bought.

    Amazon could use price to eat into Apple's marketshare. The company is known for undercutting competitors on hardware, since it can easily turn a profit through services.
    Now that has caught me completely and utterly by surprise.
    Carnageddawson100watto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 10
    gutengelgutengel Posts: 255member
    I really doubt that Amazon can produce something better than Samsung when it comes to truly wireless headphones. And from the reviews, the Samsung earbuds seem to be very behind the AirPods...
    sdw2001watto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 10
    The buds will have Alexa built-in and ship as soon as the second half of 2019, 
    How would that work? I'm guessing there would need to be an app installed on your phone. Or is there some scenario I'm missing where I could pair the headphones to my Watch, go out for a run without my phone and still use Alexa via EchoPods™?

    If Amazon prices them low enough I'm pretty confident Amazon will sell a ton of them. A couple I know wanted a HomePod but got an Echo Dot instead. They use it primarily to listen to music in their kitchen and occasionally set timers, nothing else. When i mentioned the audio quality was not that good (I mean, it's a Dot, what can you expect) they said that audio quality isn't a priority to them. Right, on a device they primarily use to listen to music. I don't get it. But they are price sensitive and if they could find low cost "Alexa enabled" wireless earbuds they'd likely go for them. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 10
    entropysentropys Posts: 1,648member
    gutengel said:
    I really doubt that Amazon can produce something better than Samsung when it comes to truly wireless headphones. And from the reviews, the Samsung earbuds seem to be very behind the AirPods...
    Sure. But no doubt priced at USD$59
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 10
    The buds will have Alexa built-in and ship as soon as the second half of 2019, 
    How would that work? I'm guessing there would need to be an app installed on your phone. Or is there some scenario I'm missing where I could pair the headphones to my Watch, go out for a run without my phone and still use Alexa via EchoPods™?

    If Amazon prices them low enough I'm pretty confident Amazon will sell a ton of them. A couple I know wanted a HomePod but got an Echo Dot instead. They use it primarily to listen to music in their kitchen and occasionally set timers, nothing else. When i mentioned the audio quality was not that good (I mean, it's a Dot, what can you expect) they said that audio quality isn't a priority to them. Right, on a device they primarily use to listen to music. I don't get it. But they are price sensitive and if they could find low cost "Alexa enabled" wireless earbuds they'd likely go for them. 
    On my Jabra earbuds, I enabled Alexa through their app, so yeah, probably install an app. And I would expect they could work through a connected apple watch unless Apple blocks that somehow.

    And audio is definately not a priority on the dot. If you primarily listen to music, any other echo device is a better choice. Echos do way more that play music now.
  • Reply 6 of 10
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 7,314member
    metalcase said:
    The buds will have Alexa built-in and ship as soon as the second half of 2019, 
    How would that work? I'm guessing there would need to be an app installed on your phone. Or is there some scenario I'm missing where I could pair the headphones to my Watch, go out for a run without my phone and still use Alexa via EchoPods™?

    If Amazon prices them low enough I'm pretty confident Amazon will sell a ton of them. A couple I know wanted a HomePod but got an Echo Dot instead. They use it primarily to listen to music in their kitchen and occasionally set timers, nothing else. When i mentioned the audio quality was not that good (I mean, it's a Dot, what can you expect) they said that audio quality isn't a priority to them. Right, on a device they primarily use to listen to music. I don't get it. But they are price sensitive and if they could find low cost "Alexa enabled" wireless earbuds they'd likely go for them. 
    On my Jabra earbuds, I enabled Alexa through their app, so yeah, probably install an app. And I would expect they could work through a connected apple watch unless Apple blocks that somehow.
    Apple Watch works with any paired BT headphones. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 10
    badmonkbadmonk Posts: 783member
    I am sure they can undercut Apple and Samsung on price but doubt build or sound quality.  And who wants to spend a day with AmazonPods only to find an expedited box of Beatles has arrived on the doorstop?

    And speaking of Amazon, how can a company cannibalize huge swaths of the American economy by undercutting the competition (because no need to book a profit or pay taxes) and not risk getting broken up by the feds?
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 10
    clymansclymans Posts: 18member
    The latest Dot isn't horrible for music.  Admittedly, it isn't a HomePod, but for playing lullabies in my kids' rooms while they fall asleep, it is a perfect fit.  Especially since I was able to get several of them free with various gift orders last Christmas.  Couple a Dot with Amazon's Music service and you get endless variety of bedtime stories or music for them.

    The previous generations of the Dot were pretty crappy for sound, I'll agree. I think Amazon realized how many people were buying the Dots for cheap music players and upped their game a bit this time around.  If memory serves, they intended the Dot to be hooked to other speakers originally.  I think they have another device (Tap or something like that) for that use case now.
  • Reply 9 of 10
    indieshackindieshack Posts: 144member
    good - commercial competition is always a good thing.
  • Reply 10 of 10
    MacProMacPro Posts: 18,166member
    ... and his wife ex-wife only gets 25% of the revenue from the spying ...  ;)

    Hey I love Amazon, just couldn't resist.  At least Amazon is more honest than Google.
    edited April 5 watto_cobra
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