Amazon announced today that Echo will be coming to Australia and New Zealand in early 2018. Amazon currently only sells books online in Australia but has built out infrastructure near Melbourne to offer a broad range of products throughout the continent. That product assortment will soon include the Amazon Echo line of products.
It would not have been a big surprise if Echo was announced as available this week. LifeHacker reported last week that some Amazon Marketplace sellers were contacted by Amazon. The email asked them to be prepared to fulfill orders starting at 2:00 pm AEDT Thursday, November 23rd. But, Amazon.com.au is still only selling books, apps and games.
Developers Can Now Develop for Australia and New Zealand
In preparation for the country launches, developers can now develop skills localized for the Australian and New Zealand markets. Developers with existing skills can also add Australian as an English variant that the skill supports.
Amazon Catching Up with Google
Most of this year, the main storylines have been about Google Home and Google Assistant working to catch up with Amazon Echo and Alexa. However, that narrative started to shift over the summer as Google caught up and surpassed Amazon in the number of countries supported. One of those countries where Google made it to market first was Australia. Amazon still doesn’t have Australian support but did recently add Canada. Google Home remains the only smart speaker over the holidays in France and Australia and Amazon Echo was first to market in India. Amazon may also become first to market in New Zealand.
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Google is not reliant strictly on smart speakers to make Assistant available to users. Through Android smartphones Google now supports Italian, Brazilian Portuguese and Spanish localized to both Mexico and Spain. Without a smartphone platform, Amazon will continue to struggle in the mobile device driven voice assistant segment. However, the smart speaker race to launch in new countries is an important angle to the voice assistant competitive landscape and Amazon is moving toward checking off two more countries right after the New Year.