Who would have thought just a couple of years back that Amazon was meant for substantially more success in an entirely new, experimental hardware category than established, popular smartphone and tablet divisions?
Incredibly enough, the Echo smart speaker has been able to singlehandedly carve out a profitable niche, rapidly turning into a prosperous product family and starting a trend that everyone from Google to Apple, Microsoft, Lenovo, Essential and even Alibaba are following all of a sudden.
There are now Echo models with touchscreens in tow, as well as cameras, not to mention ultra-low-cost pint-sized versions and a portable Tap derivation. What Amazon is yet to unveil however is a full-on sequel for the original, standard variant widely released over two years ago.
That’s precisely what’s coming sometime this fall, according to unnamed inside sources cited by Engadget, as the Apple HomePod threat looms large. Basically, the Seattle-based e-commerce giant is thinking of taking a couple of leafs out of its Cupertino and Mountain View rivals’ books for a change, planning a “shorter and slimmer” new Echo with a “softened design” and “cloth-like covering.”
Get ready to say goodbye to plastic and cumbersome 9.25 inch height, with the curvier Echo 2 (tentative name) almost looking like “three or four Echo Dots stacked on top of each other.” An Echo Dot, mind you, is a measly 1.3 inches “tall.”
Aside from a welcomed facelift, several under-the-hood upgrades might be in store, including more tweeters (the HomePod has a whopping seven) and mysteriously improved microphone technology. Still, the price is expected to remain low, maybe go even lower than the OG Echo’s $180 MSRP, which should easily offer Amazon the edge on a $350 Apple gadget.