We suspected it was happening and now Amazon has confirmed it. The Amazon Echo and smaller Echo Dot are coming to the U.K. and Germany, Amazon’s first releases outside of the U.S. for its voice-controlled speaker and smart home hub.
In in the case of Germany, this is Amazon’s first release in a non-English language for its Alexa voice-controlled assistant.
“Millions of customers in the US have already fallen in love with Alexa and we are thrilled that it now speaks German,” said Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon, in a statement. “We are pleased to bring Echo and Alexa to Germany.”
Amazon Echo is available for pre-order in the UK starting today for £149.99. It will start shipping in the coming weeks, says Amazon. For a couple of days, Prime members in the UK can pick up an Echo for £50 less. The Echo Dot will be available starting next month priced at £49.99. Or for the very enthusiastic, Amazon also will offer a 6-pack, where you buy 5 Echo Dots and get 1 free, or a 12-pack, which gets you 2 free.
The e-commerce giant’s latest hardware play has been a surprise hit for the company since first launching at the end of 2014 in the U.S., with people in these markets asking for it right after it launched. Its popularity is part of a larger wave of devices and services launched by large tech companies over the last several years, which include other players like Apple’s Siri on OS devices; Google’s Home and Now efforts; and Microsoft’s Cortana.
Powered by artificial intelligence and machine learning, these aim to help us interact with and use other services much in the way that human assistants could do. While Amazon’s has a clear connection to its own larger e-commerce operation — you can order Amazon products through them, of course — it’s a much larger play by the company to be a platform for helping you run your whole life.
And now Amazon is ramping up scale and investment in expanding the operation. It bullishly projects it will sell 3 million units of the device in 2016, with that ramping up to 10 million in 2017, according to a report in The Information.
“Millions of customers love Alexa, and we’re thrilled to introduce her to the UK and Germany,” said Dave Limp, Senior Vice President, Amazon Devices and Services, in a statement. “We’re also excited to expand the Alexa Skills Kit and the Alexa Voice Service, so developers and hardware makers around the world can create Alexa experiences for UK and German customers.”
The UK and German versions will give you the same range of integration options — you can use it to integrate with thousands of other services by way of “skills” that you teach Alexa, Amazon’s voice-powered assistant.
There are now 3,000 of these in the U.S., Amazon announced yesterday, including entertainment/media services like Spotify and CNN (where you speak to the devices to play music or hear news); connected home services like your smart lights; as well as more basic things like using the device like a time keeper and alarm.
The big differences in the newest launches will be localisation. The U.K. version of Alexa has a British accent and will integrate additionally with some products that are available specifically in the U.K. market like the Hive thermostat, Netatmo, and the food delivery service Just-Eat. Meanwhile, the German version will include integrations that will let you order rides through MyTaxi or make calls and deal with your bills (fun!) with Deutsche Telekom. Perhaps because of the localisation issue, for now, Amazon is touting only “hundreds” of Alexa apps in Europe.
Echo and Echo Dot are being sold online but also have retail partnerships. In the U.K. these will include sales at Argos, Currys, John Lewis, PC World, and Tesco, strong partners also for Amazon’s older hardware sales in areas like its tablets and the Kindle readers.