The Amazon.com.au website now taking pre-orders for the Alexa-powered Echo, Echo Dot and Echo Plus. The devices will be priced at AUD$149, AUD$79 and AUD$229 respectively and will ship on February 1st. The devices will also be available from local retailers starting in early February. Amazon also announced that Amazon Music Unlimited (AMU) will become available in Australia and New Zealand starting February 1st. AMU will be available to new Echo owners free of charge for 90 days and thereafter in paid plans starting at AUD$4.99.
Given that music listening is routinely one of the top use cases for smart speakers, the launch of Amazon Music Unlimited is a significant announcement. This will enable users that have not already subscribed to Spotify to have an easy onramp to unlimited music selection and listening. MIDiA research in 2017 reported that Amazon Music was the number three subscription service globally behind only Spotify and Apple Music.
Playing Catch-Up to Google
Amazon promised in late November that Australia and New Zealand would get Echo in early 2018. This announcement fulfills that promise. The downside for Amazon is that it is entering Australia more than six months after Google Home and missed the entire 2017 holiday season. Another challenge for Amazon is that Australia is not a well-established marker for the company from a retail presence perspective. It has offered books and media purchase for a number of years, but is just now expanding into other categories.
There is no word on how well Google Home sold over the holidays in Australia, but it was one of the first markets where Google entered first with a smart speaker and the company indicated earlier this month that it sold more than 7.6 million devices globally in Q4 2017. Developers have had access to Alexa Skills Kit (ASK) since November so you should expect some localized skills to be available upon launch. Also, India launched with over 10,000 English language Alexa skills originally developed for other markets. We expect to see a similar approach in Australia and New Zealand. This will provide locals with a lot of third party skills to choose from.
Smart speakers and voice assistants represent a global market. Expect to see more countries gain access in the coming months. You can also expect Amazon and Google to intensify their competition for new customers. Don’t be surprised to see some discounting soon to capture more consumer adoption.