Engadget is reporting that a new Amazon Echo will be coming this year. Devindra Hardawar cites anonymous sources that suggest the updated device is expected to be different in appearance and performance.
The new Echo will be both shorter and slimmer than the original, almost as if it were three or four Echo Dots stacked on top of each other, our source claims. Amazon is also softening its design with rounded edges and a cloth-like covering, rather than the current Echo’s plastic shell and flat ends.
The new device is also expected to include improved microphone technology and better sound quality. This may help it better compete with forthcoming Apple HomePod and Harman Kardon Invoke that are both heavily promoting audio performance as a differentiator. Amazon doesn’t have to compete at that audio quality level because it can always fall back on connectivity to high end Bluetooth speakers like those provided by Bose and Sonos. However, an audio upgrade may cause some consumers to stick with Amazon instead of considering alternatives while also keeping it ahead of Google Home.
Time for a Refresh
The update rumor makes sense for at least two reasons. First, the Echo hasn’t been updated since its original launch in 2014. During that time we have seen two versions of the Echo Dot. Second, Amazon has been heavily discounting Echo for weeks ahead of Prime Day, on Prime Day and after Prime Day. That looks like a strategy to bleed off inventory prior to a new product launch.