Amazon is releasing a host of new products that bring Alexa, its voice assistant, to a drastically expanded range of gadgets.
The gadgets included an Alexa-enabled 'Amazon Basics' microwave, redesigned Echo Dots, a wall clock, a home security camera from Ring, an 'Echo Auto' for your car, a subwoofer, a smart plug, and an input that makes it possible to connect Alexa to any regular speaker.
"Amazon launched today what I believe is the industry's largest assortment of home automation products and added meaningful improvements to its services," said Patrick Moorhead, a tech analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy. "The company once again separated itself in the smart home space from both Google (GOOGL - Get Report) and Apple (AAPL - Get Report) ."
In the smart speaker market, Amazon's Echo still controls the majority of U.S. market share, although sales of the Alphabet's GOOGL Google Home have been gaining. The new devices and software inputs align with Amazon's stated ambition of making Alexa available "wherever you are," in the words of CEO Jeff Bezos in a July press release -- and the devices could also beat back competition from Google Home.
"It may be challenging to compete against Google globally because they don't have a phone, so it makes sense to have Alexa in everything -- microwaves, wall clocks, picture frames, it doesn't matter," added Doug Robinson, CEO of Fresh Digital Group, a development studio for voice interfaces including Alexa. "It could give them an advantage in competing globally."
Smart speaker ownership is on the rise, with 32% of consumers owning at least one as of August, according to a survey from Adobe Analytics. But consumers are using voice assistant for a broader range of tasks beyond playing music or setting alarms. Smart home commands were identified as a fast-growing use case, with 31% of owners using them to power smart home appliances.
While an Alexa-enabled microwave or wall clock may seem a bit ridiculous on its face, voice interfaces are new enough that the technology still has the ability to surprise, Robinson added: "The thing about voice is, a lot of times what you think is going to happen isn't what happens. We're all laughing at the microwave, but what if it winds up being the jam that all the kids are into? Or the wall clock ends up being the thing for assisted living?"
The rapidly multiplying range of Alexa devices could make existing customers more likely to stick with Amazon, added Vincent Thielke, an analyst at Canalys.
"There is growing allegiance to a single voice assistant, and the new hardware is key to getting existing Echo owners to remain within Alexa's ecosystem," Thielke said.
Amazon shares rose 0.93% to $1,944.30 on Thursday. For the year, shares are up 66%.
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