Ask Alexa when she’s heading Down Under and she’ll now have an answer.
OK, she won’t offer a specific date, but she can at least tell you that Amazon’s line of Alexa-enabled Echo smart speakers will be making its way to Australia and New Zealand in early 2018.
While it’s possible to import and set up an Echo speaker in the antipodean nations, local support will of course make it a whole lot more useful. Aussies and Kiwis will be able to choose from Amazon’s classic Echo speaker, the original of which launched in 2015, as well as others in its growing range, which include the Echo Dot, Plus, Spot, and Show — all powered by Alexa.
Australia doesn’t have its own Amazon online store yet, but the Seattle-based company is on the verge of launching one there. Analysts had suggested it could come online in the next few days, but “back-end glitches” reported by local media this week suggest it might not appear until early next year, matching up with the Echo’s officially confirmed launch.
Toni Reid, VP of Amazon Alexa, said this week that customer response to Alexa and the company’s line of Echo smart speakers has been “incredibly positive,” and that her team was looking forward to making them available “for our Australian and New Zealand customers early next year.”
Reid added that Amazon was also looking forward to seeing what kind of innovative Alexa experiences developers in Australia and New Zealand will bring to the platform.
Amazon’s Echo speaker is currently available in a limited number of markets, namely the U.K. and Germany, and more recently India and Japan.
So what about Apple’s HomePod and Google Home?
In a recent interview with Australian media, Google Home product manager Raunaq Shah explained that a lot of effort had gone into preparing Google’s smart speaker for the local market.
“We hired a team of writers to include all of the exclusively Australian words we wanted the system to recognize, while also adding some unique Aussie flavour to the responses … it’s so exciting to release a product that looks, sounds, and feels like an authentic Australian.”
With the Echo, Google Home, and HomePod soon to be selling alongside each other for the first time in Australia, the battle among the tech giants for smart-home supremacy Down Under is set to begin in earnest in 2018.