Amazon has cut the price of its Echo smart speaker to $129.99, the same price as the Google Home speaker, for one day only.
This is not the first time Amazon has reduced the price the speaker, but the $50 savings represents one of the biggest price cuts it has ever offered for the device. The move fits with Amazon’s recent strategy of creating buzz via big sales or shopping events like Prime Day during the traditionally slow summer months.
When Google released its smart speaker last year, backed by the company’s powerful search engine, it came in well below the Echo’s traditional price of $179.99. While Amazon and Google have been battling to lower the cost of smart speakers, Apple went another direction when it released the HomePod speaker at a price of $349.
The Echo is the flagship member of the Alexa family, with other early models including smaller Echo Dot and the portable Amazon Tap. Amazon has since branched out with the announcement of several new Alexa-powered devices: the fashion-oriented Echo Look; the Echo Show with touchscreen; and most recently the $20 Dash Wand.
Amazon doesn’t say how many Alexa-powered devices it has sold, but a recent report by Consumer Intelligence Research Partners puts that figure at to close 10.7 million, with close to half of those coming between November 2016 and March of this year.
Amazon has pulled into an early lead in the competitive voice assistant market thanks in part to the success of these speakers. More and more households are becoming aware of the devices thanks to moves like Amazon’s traditional media advertising and prominent placement on the company’s e-commerce site. CIRP, which polled 500 U.S.-based Amazon customers for its report, found awareness of the devices now sits at 86 percent, up from 61 percent a year ago, and 20 percent two years ago.
Alexa has gotten a lot smarter over the years, and she has now piled up more than 12,000 skills. Alexa’s proliferation can be partially attributed to Amazon’s decision to open the digital brain up to developers and device manufacturers in 2015. Alexa Voice Service lets manufacturers integrate Alexa into their products. The Alexa Skills Kit encourages third-party developers to build skills for Alexa. Developers who want to add to Alexa’s abilities can write code that works with Alexa in the cloud, letting the smart assistant do the heavy lifting of understanding and deciphering spoken commands.