I usually try to stay away from clickbait titles. They always seem disappointing. However, I don’t know how you can be disappointed with this.
Yesterday, Amazon announced that it is releasing the 2nd Generation Echo Dot. The big news is that the price went from $90 to a penny shy of $50. And if you buy 5, you’ll get one free. (Hat tip to sister site Alexa/Echo.
That explains the 50% off part… but what about the “revolutionary” part.
Let me start by explaining what the Amazon Echo is… and then I’ll explain why the Echo Dot is better.
Amazon has a digital personal assistant like Apple’s Siri or Microsoft’s Cortana. Amazon calls her Alexa. That’s not very unique, but digital personal assistants are arguably revolutionary. Amazon Echo is a microphone/speaker that is sitting and waiting for you to activate it by simply saying, “Alexa.” The difference is that you don’t have to find a phone, navigate an app, press a button, or anything. I can continue typing this sentence while I ask Alexa to play music Jack Johnson. It works from across the room (unless there’s a television on, or other significant outside noise).
The Echo is probably best at playing music, but it is also very good at home automation stuff. I can control my Nest thermostat upstairs while I’m downstairs, without a computer, tablet, or phone. You can order a pizza from Domino’s with it. You can have Uber send you a car. You can play Choose Your Own Adventure games. I even use Amazon Echo to teach my kids spelling and math.
Now, to tie all this together, I have to explain what an Echo Dot is and why that’s even better than an Amazon Echo. An Echo Dot is a very small Amazon Echo… about the size of a hockey puck, but thicker. It has a very small speaker that isn’t great, but it has Bluetooth and an audio out port. This makes it ideal for hooking up to a set of speakers or your stereo. This way you aren’t tied to the Echo’s speaker (though I think it’s great, some audiophiles may disagree).
Perhaps the best part is the price. An Amazon Echo will set you back $180, and it very rarely goes on sale. The Echo Dot is less than $50. So you can pair with speakers you already have. I paid the original $90 price for the Echo Dot and paired them with a deal I found on these bookshelf speakers. However, I could have paired it with my Oontz Angle Bluetooth Speaker. If you bought those two, it would be less than $80… less than half price of the regular Echo.
So why did Amazon drop the price nearly in half just five months after releasing it? My guess is that it is afraid of Google Home, which Google’s upcoming version of the Echo. Apple is rumored to be getting into the game as well. I think Amazon’s plan is to get Alexa everywhere first.
Imagine if Amazon invented $50 tablets before anyone else had released a tablet. Would people pay $400 or $500 for an Samsung Galaxy Tab or an Apple iPad? Maybe, but it might also be difficult to market it at that price.
I think it’s a great plan. I’m honestly considering getting the 6-pack, adding a couple more to the house, giving them as Christmas gifts, or using them as giveaways on the site. I’m tempted to go full-out Oprah: “You get an Echo Dot. You get an Echo Dot.”
What do you think? I realize that I’m more enthusiastic than most people about Amazon’s Alexa products (hence the other blog). Do “normal” people find this as amazing a deal as I do? Let me know in the comments.