Amazon Echo For Sale To All

The Amazon Echo, Amazon's Wi-Fi music player that's really a connected virtual assistant/smart home interface, is available to everyone as of today (shipping mid-July) for $179.99.

Until this week, the device had been available only to Amazon Prime members since November at a price of $99, which also included a remote (which is now a separate purchase of $29.99). Whether due to the nearly half-off price or Amazon's continuous promotion of the device on the front page of its site, the twenty thousand plus reviews of the Echo tell you the device has sold well into the hundreds of thousands (the Android Play app for Echo has been downloaded over one hundred thousand times) at this point. With half the year left, I expect with wider availability the Echo will easily be in over a million homes by year-end and I wouldn't be surprised to see it reaching a couple million units in installed devices. Overall a pretty impressive debut for a completely new product. 

There's been plenty written about the Echo, and after using the device for a few weeks I have to say I'm impressed so far with the device. The voice command capability is on par with Siri or Google Now voice command features, and there's nothing really similar to it in terms of a voice-powered virtual assistant for the home, at least for now until Siri-powered HomeKit devices become more prevalent. (For a good description from someone's who's been living with Echo for a while, see Stacey's piece here).

While much of the interest capability mash-up features right now are powered through the Alexa IFTTT channel, I'm more intrigued to see what Amazon enables through first-party integrations (like it's done with the Hue and WeMo). The company debuted its SDK in late February and has since gone on a hiring spree for software engineers for the Echo. With the device going into wider availability, I have to wonder what Amazon has in store.

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