From the horse’s mouth
I have written some previous articles about Amazon’s Echo devices and Alexa platform but at the time of publication, these devices weren’t officially available in Australia. But Amazon have just announced that they are to launch these devices in the Australian and New Zealand market on February 1 2018.
This is although Google had launched their Home smart speaker and Assistant platform to the Australian market in July 2017. Then, close to Christmas, they launched the Home Mini smart speaker and were gaining some momentum on the Australian market.
The devices to be initially available are the Echo smart speaker (AUD$119), the Echo Dot adaptor (AUD$49) which connects to an existing audio device with a line input; and the Echo Plus smart speaker (AUD$199) which is equipped with an integrated Zigbee home-automation hub. Amazon also has run an introductory offer for a pair of Echo Dot adaptors for AUD$79. As well, Amazon are taking advance orders on these Echo devices with the goal to ship them out on February 1.
Amazon has localised Alexa to satisfy the needs of the Australian and New Zealand userbase including giving her that distinctive Aussie accent and having her providing relevant answers. But the moment this news was launched, a significant number of Australian brands got cracking with developing Alexa Skills which provide a link between their services and these Echo devices. For example, the Australian media names like ABC, SBS and News Corporation have worked with Amazon to have their content available through Alexa. Similarly, Westpac and NAB have provided Alexa Skills so you can find out the state of your accounts you have with them.
I see the arrival of Amazon Echo on the Australian marketplace as the start of a major showdown when it comes to voice-driven home-assistant platforms in this country. As well, it will be a wake-up call for Australian service providers to work on “skills” for these platforms.