Amazon is planning to introduce as many as eight new Alexa-powered smart home devices later this year, according to a report from CNBC today. Those devices will be a wide-ranging offering of voice-controlled gadgets: a microwave oven, an in-car gadget of some sort, and a set of higher-end home audio gear, including an amplifier, receiver, and subwoofer. CNBC says Amazon is planning to detail at least some of these devices at an event some time later this month.
Amazon’s expansion into even more hardware categories will significantly heat up the smart home market, which is already flooded with Alexa-powered devices that either incorporate Amazon’s voice assistant exclusively or offer it as one of four prominent options alongside Apple’s Siri, Google Assistant, and Microsoft’s Cortana. CNBC reports that some of the upcoming devices will have Alexa built in, while others will connect to other Alexa-enabled devices for voice control access.
Nowhere does the report indicate that these new devices will be branded under the Echo line, which has traditionally focused on home audio with some light entertainment and communication features. That suggests Amazon could introduce a new line of smart appliances separate from its Echo line and focused more on the Alexa branding.
These types of products would also put Amazon in more direct competition with companies like Sonos that increasingly rely on Alexa to power voice control features and other artificial intelligence tasks. Sonos recently updated both its soundbar and home amplifier products with Alexa support, but a more professional-grade Amazon speaker and amp could cut into those products’ success. Entering the appliance market would also make Amazon a large and formidable new competitor to brands like GE, KitchenAid, LG, and Samsung.