Market Insight

Amazon Strengthens its Audio-based Drive into the Smart Home, as Sonos Lays off Staff

March 15, 2016  | Subscribers Only

Paul Erickson Paul Erickson Senior Research Analyst, Service Provider Technology

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Amazon recently announced two new products in its Echo connected audio device family, the Tap and the Echo Dot, complementing the original Echo product released in late 2014.

The $130 Tap is essentially a Bluetooth portable speaker that also has Wi-Fi capability, to enable Amazon’s Alexa voice-based assistant capabilities and music playback from Spotify, Amazon Prime Music, Pandora, iHeartRadio, and iTunes. Capacitive playback controls are on top of the device, with a front microphone button that enables the voice-controlled Alexa assistant. The device has dual stereo speakers on opposing sides of the device to enable omnidirectional sound, mimicking the Logitech / Ultimate Ears Boom product line in construction and basic form factor.

The $90 Echo Dot is a puck-shaped device that adds Alexa-based voice assistant functionality to any existing audio setup. While the device has its own tiny built-in speaker to enable basic audio and alarm functionality, it is intended to be connected to a speaker or audio system via either cable or Blueooth. Seemingly as a way to forcibly train the customer base to use Alexa, the Echo Dot is only available to Amazon Prime members and can only be ordered via Alexa on any of Amazon’s voice enabled platforms (Echo, recent Fire TV models, Fire tablets).

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