If you were in a tizzy about what to get the devoted Billie Eilish fan in your family for the holidays, Amazon might have just solved your problem — assuming you’re prepared to drop $230 on them.
Announced today, the Billie Eilish Limited Edition Echo Studio is available for pre-order and features the melancholy-voiced singer pasted on the side of Amazon’s highest-end Echo speaker, the Studio. Basically, the album cover art from Eilish’s new album “Happier Than Ever” has been printed onto a new beige-hued fabric and wrapped around the Echo Studio. It creates a slightly eerie-looking product that supposedly someone, somewhere, will want to put in their home.
This is Amazon’s first foray into celebrity skins; previous attempts to dress up its bulbous smart speakers have focused on pandas and tigers designed for children’s rooms. The collaboration between Billie and the bassiest Echo seems like a direct play for the tweenager room — an assumption bolstered by the frilly boudoir featured in promotional pix for the collab.
The commercialism of this move may be a sad day for many Billie fans, who flock to the singer’s genre-defying music in part because of her ability to challenge the expectations that surround most young, female popstars. The songwriter is quoted in an Amazon blog post about the device as saying, “I can’t wait for my cutie fans to be able to listen to my new album Happier Than Ever in spatial audio, available on Amazon Music Unlimited.”
As a limited-edition device, the Billie Studio comes with a $30 price bump over the non-Billie version, which goes for $199. You do get six months of Amazon Music bundled with it — and that applies to existing subscribers as well — so you can listen happily to “Happier Than Ever” in spatial audio.
There are no extra Billie features here, though, and no option to have her dulcet tones be your new Alexa voice. Amazon says that special Billie Eilish alarms are coming soon — although those will come to all Echo speakers, whether they have the singer’s face on them or not.
Avid Echo Studio fans may have been hoping for an actual upgrade to the aging speaker. Despite being the only Echo that can output high-quality audio formats like HD or Ultra HD and spatial audio formats like Dolby Atmos, the Studio hasn’t seen a spec bump since its release in 2019.
For now, all we’re getting is a new look. We’ll have to wait and see if this is the start of a slew of celebrity-themed skins for Echo devices or a one-off collaboration. Top of our list would be Roy Kent wrapped around the soccer-ball-shaped Echo, complete with the rascally Brit as a celebrity voice for Alexa. Although, sadly, Siri probably has dibs on the likeness of the Ted Lasso star.
Update, 4:49PM ET September 22nd 2021: Added that all Echo devices will be able to use the special Billie Eilish alarms when they’re released.