Amazon is preparing to launch a smaller and portable version of its AI digital assistant Echo in the coming weeks, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal. This anticipated move by Amazon will help it compete against the mobile digital assistants from Apple, Microsoft, Google, and others on the market.
Amazon's portable Echo, code-named "Fox," will reportedly be the size of a beer can. It will receive its charge from a docking station, according to The Journal. Fox also will aim to conserve its battery life by requiring users to push a button for it to respond to voice commands, The Journal notes. Currently, Amazon's only other option for Echo requires it to remain tethered to a plugin outlet to operate.
Fox's portability will help Amazon better compete against rivals that rely on smartphones and tablets to operate their digital assistants.
Apple has Siri, Microsoft is counting on Cortana, and Google has Google Now to take on Siri and others. Over the summer, Facebook jumped into the digital assistant market with its Facebook M, which runs on top of the Facebook Messenger app on smartphones.
Amazon's Fox is expected to be set at a price point that's lower than Echo, which retails for approximately $180, according to The Journal report.
The e-commerce giant is apparently hoping to hook in a broader range of customers with its cheaper offering, even though the Echo has received favorable reviews in the face of a number of competitors.
With Echo users initiate voice commands to the device to play streaming music, answer questions, provide traffic and weather reports, read audiobooks and news, dish out sport scores and information on local businesses, and interact with other smart home devices.
While "Fox" is one means for Amazon to increase its footprint among consumers, it is also looking to expand its Alexa digital assistant software beyond Echo and into the hands of third-party developers. We'll see whether this three-pronged approach to the digital assistant market will ultimately aid Amazon in its battle with Apple, Google, Microsoft, and Facebook.
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