It looks like Amazon is working on an AirPods competitor
Alexa, whisper sweet nothings to me.
Amazon is reportedly working on a pair of true wireless headphones with integrated Alexa functionality to take on Apple’s AirPods. That’s according to Bloomberg, who goes on to say that while the Fire phone flopped, Amazon really wants to take Alexa mobile.
Those earbuds should be coming in the second half of this year. The project suffered some developmental setbacks, but Amazon is currently looking for manufacturing partners for the true wireless earbuds. Amazon is said to be focusing on audio quality as a major selling point vs the competition in the already crowded marketplace.
These earbuds are being developed at Amazon’s Lab126 hardware division, where it is one of the most important current projects. Lab126 is also said to be working on a consumer robot for home use with Alexa, with the code-name Vesta.
So, Alexa as a mobile assistant
While there was a battery-powered Echo speaker, it was discontinued, probably because nobody wants to carry a whole speaker around with them daily. Opening Alexa up to be included in third-party devices was a smart move by Amazon. It let them see which devices sold well, while still harvesting tons of data about Alexa use from consumers.
When the earbuds are out, you’ll be able to tap into the huge library of Alexa’s skills. Whether you want to order things from Amazon, access your music library or just get an audiobook read to you on your commute, Alexa will be right there, waiting, inside your ears.
With no existing phone hardware of its own (RIP my Fire Phone), Amazon will have to rely on playing nice with Google and Apple to integrate Alexa support for the new earbuds. That shouldn’t be an issue on Android, but Apple has historically put up resistance to third-party accessories like this. Maybe it won’t be an issue, as Amazon and Apple appear to be playing well together again.
The retail giant has a history of undercutting the pricing of its competition, so I expect to see a price point below that of the AirPods or even the Galaxy Buds. Assuming that the sound and physical quality is there at release, Amazon’s earbuds should sell like hotcakes.
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