In a first, Amazon launches a battery-powered portable Echo speaker in India
After launching nearly a dozen Echo speaker models in India in two years, Amazon said on Wednesday it is adding a new variant to the mix that addresses one of the most requested features from customers in the nation: Portability.
The e-commerce giant today unveiled the Echo Input Portable Smart Speaker Edition, a new variant in the lineup that includes a built-in battery. The 4,800mAh enclosed battery will offer up to 10 hours of continuous music playing or up to 11 hours of stand-by life, the company said.
“Portability has been one of the most requested features in India,” said Miriam Daniel, VP of Alexa Devices. “You want to be able to carry Alexa with you from room to room within your homes. So we have designed something just for you.”
The company said the Echo Input Portable Smart Speaker Edition (which remains a mouthful) shares the same “hardware architecture” as the Echo Input, a device it launched last year that does not feature a speaker.
The battery-powered Echo model, designed exclusively for India, is priced at 5,999 Indian rupees ($84). Users can currently purchase it at an introductory price of 4,999 Indian rupees ($70) and the device will begin shipping on December 18. Amazon executives said they intend to bring this new speaker to other markets eventually.
Other than the built-in battery pack, the new speaker model offers an identical set of features — access to some 30,000 Alexa skills, compatibility with a range of home devices, and of course, support for Alexa voice assistant — as other Echo variants. (The new model additionally carries an array of four LEDs that light up when a user taps the power button to show battery level.)
Amazon has never disclosed how many Echo speakers it has sold in India, but it has noted that the country is one of its most important markets. At a conference in September, Rohit Prasad, VP and head scientist of Alexa AI at Amazon, said the “adoption of Alexa in India has been phenomenal.”
Over the years, a number of companies including LG, Motorola, and Sony have added support for Alexa to their headphones and smartphones.
The e-commerce giant, which has invested north of $5 billion in India, is among many international firms that are currently betting to turn the nation of 1.3 billion people into one of its biggest markets. Winning that market means customizing many of their products and services to align with local conditions in the nation. In September, Amazon announced Alexa was adding support for Hindi language to broaden its appeal in the nation.