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What we learned from Amazon's major hardware announcements




Amazon.com (NASDAQ: AMZN) held an event on September 25, and it had some pretty big new releases ready. The company showcased 15 new products, giving tech investors a glimpse of where Amazon is headed.

Amazon's business is about more than just hardware, but last Wednesday's event made it clear that the company still sees a big role for hardware in the future.

  A woman sitting on a couch using headphones with her smartphone

Image source: Getty Images

Alexa is on the move

Amazon's Alexa has always had a great deal in common with Apple Siri and Alphabet & # 39; s Google Assistant. But there were also differences in use cases. End users tend to use voice assistants on mobile devices, a trend that seems extremely likely to be driven by Google Assistant and Siri, since so many smartphones come with these services on board. To date, Alexa has lived primarily on home devices, especially Amazon's Echo series of smart speakers.

Amazon's major hardware event included unveiling several products that promise to make Alexa more mobile. Wireless headphones (Echo Buds), smart glasses (Echo Frames) and smart jewelry (Echo Loop, a smart ring) will give Alexa a free range. It will still be tough for Alexa to compete with Siri and Google Assistant in areas such as navigation, but getting users accustomed to having Alexa on the go should help give it a foothold outside the home.

Getting framed

Of the When on the move Alexa devices, Echo Frames are easily the most interesting. They are extremely reminiscent of the infamous Google Glass, which had a rough public run and now only exists in an Enterprise Edition. Still, Amazon seems ready to give smart glasses another chance ̵[ads1]1; a limited chance, anyway.

Like Google did, Amazon starts with some kind of pilot program. Echo Frames will initially be available by invitation only. They will cost just $ 179.99 after invitation and $ 249.99 thereafter, far from Google Glass's $ 1,500 starting price (although it is not yet clear if Amazon is selling its debut smart glasses at a loss).

Amazon's Alexa experiments don & # 39; Don't always have obvious payouts in the short term, and investors shouldn't expect to see many Echo Frames on the street anytime soon. Still, this program suggests that Amazon sees a future for smart glasses. Joining the race now can make a big difference if and when they become useful enough to go mainstream.

Chef Alexa

Amazon is clearly interested in taking Alexa away from home to compete with assistants who are on the move like iOS native Siri. But the company also makes sure not to seat home to competitors like Google, which offers an Echo-like smart speaker in Google Home and that already supports some smart home features.

An advantage for Alexa in a smart home location is that Amazon sells its own smart devices and other smart home products. For example, it offers smart watches as well as smart microwaves. The company's latest announcement included minor upgrades of some home appliances and a big reveal: the Alexa smart oven. It is Amazon's newest, largest and most expensive ($ 249.99) smart home unit yet, although it is still a microwave-like countertop unit rather than the kind of thing homeowners once bought at Sears .

Amazon seems to have a keen eye for where smart devices will be most useful: using a smart watch to set a timer or instructing a digital assistant to heat the oven for both of you has a common sense that is lacking in, for example, smart fridges that users can tweet from.



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