Amazon Echo is now shipping to 89 countries according to an Amazon spokesperson. An earlier blog post by Amazon’s Jeff Blankenberg encouraged developers to make their skills available to users around the world in over 60 countries. However, the Amazon spokesperson provided an extensive list of 82 new countries to add to the seven that already have direct shipping of Echo products in their country.
Customers in over 80 countries (in which Alexa and Echo were previously unavailable) can order an Echo, Echo Dot, or Echo Plus…from Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.de, or Amazon.com. They can then choose to talk to Alexa in any of the languages she currently supports – including US English, UK English, IN English, German, or Japanese…Additionally, Amazon Music Unlimited is expanding today as well and will be available in many of these countries.
Capturing Global Smart Speaker Interest
This is an interesting strategy. Smart speakers have tapped into latent consumer interest that is not limited to the few countries lucky enough to be chosen for early product launches. Hundreds of millions of consumers speak English, German and Japanese even if they do not reside in those countries. That includes over 600 million people that speak English as a second language. This is a large market. Several of those consumers have already procured Echo devices through unofficial means and this simply formalizes the availability.
The downside for the consumer is that Alexa won’t be localized yet for their locale. The upside is that they have access. Mark Tucker of VoiceXP commented:
“I was [thinking] ‘it’s spin’ at first…but looking at the Echo International Version listed on Amazon.com they do a good job of transparency. If I select Mexico in the dropdown, it says that it can’t be shipped there. At the bottom of the page they list countries and what is supported or not supported. It’s good for consumers that speak English and live in other countries as they can get an Echo device now. It is good for Amazon because now they can say that they are in more countries than Google.
Tobias Goebel from Aspect Software agrees:
“There is nothing wrong with starting with a non-native language in a new market to establish presence, then add support for the native language later.”
The Amazon Music Unlimited Factor
This is also about Amazon Music Unlimited (AMU). The number one use case on smart speakers today is music listening. Amazon Music is the number three subscription music service globally according to Mark Mulligan of MIDiA Research. However, most of that is through Amazon Prime Music. Consumers get that service for free with a Prime Membership. Amazon would like to introduce more consumers to its premium Amazon Music Unlimited service which is more like Spotify and Apple Music. AMU was made available today in 28 new countries. If you have an Echo, the benefits of AMU increase. So, making Echo available in these countries, even if Alexa isn’t yet localized, could be a catalyst for AMU adoption.
Does Amazon Have Excess Inventory
Another thing worth considering is how Amazon has sufficient inventory to fulfill orders from these additional countries. Last year Echo sold out before Christmas. If Echo products were on the path to stock-outs today in the countries it already supports, offering this to additional countries would not be a viable option. It would just lead to earlier stock-outs. We can assume that Amazon has additional inventory and still may sell out, but has sufficient inventory for its core U.S., UK and German markets for a couple of weeks even if there is a large influx of international orders.
Business Strategy or Inventory Strategy
The available inventory doesn’t necessarily mean that Echo is not selling well. This may be a strategy to sell off excess inventory or it may simply be a planned business strategy. We can talk about OODA loops another time, but Amazon has continually taken steps to surprise rivals and shake up the competitive landscape. Android, and therefore Google Assistant, are available globally. Depending on your count, we can peg that at 190 to 200 countries. As of today, 89 of those countries can also buy an Amazon Echo. Google Home is only available in seven.
Countries Where Amazon Will Ship an Echo
Below is a handy list of countries that can now order Amazon Echo. Surprisingly, Australia and New Zealand are not on the list. Or, maybe it’s not so surprising. Both were recently announced as getting Echo with localized Alexa in early 2018. They will have to wait a bit longer, but will soon have an Alexa that literally speaks their vernacular. Everyone else will have to choose a vernacular that they can adapt to.