By Jeffrey Dastin
SEATTLE (Reuters) – Amazon.com Inc on Wednesday announced a range of new voice-controlled Echo devices, as it gears up for new competition in the category from Apple Inc.
At a press event at its Seattle headquarters, the world’s largest online retailer showcased new Echo devices, one tailored for gaming and one for phone calls. It also announced the small, circular Echo Spot, fit for video-calling from a bedside table.
Amazon also announced the Echo Plus, aiming to make it easier for customers to install connected homes so they can command appliances by voice.
“There’s no apps. There’s no skills. It just works out of the box,” Senior Vice President David Limp said, contrasting the Echo Plus with the smart-home setup on previous devices. The Echo Plus will cost $149 in the United States.
The announcement comes after Apple announced its $349 HomePod speaker earlier this year, marking its first move into a completely new area in more than two years.
Apple has leapt ahead of peers in the past when it launched competing gadgets, and many are already familiar with its voice-powered Siri assistant.
The new lineup underscores how Amazon wants its own voice-controlled assistant Alexa, which powers the Echo devices, to work in a range of activities and to become a top computing platform like Microsoft Corp’s Windows. Amazon also sells items from its retail website by voice.
Alphabet Inc’s Google has a competing product, the Google Home, though it lags Echo devices in market share, according to research firm eMarketer.
Amazon also announced on Wednesday a new Fire TV player and said Alexa would be available in some BMW cars starting in the middle of next year.
(Reporting By Jeffrey Dastin in Seattle; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli)