Amazon launches its Echo devices and Alexa in Japan

Amazon has continued its hardware push into Asia after it launched the Echo, Echo Plus, and Echo Dot in Japan today.

Alongside the hardware, it is also making its Alexa voice assistant available in the country. That means that developers will gain access to Alexa Skills — which has support for Japanese — while consumers will also be able to use Alexa alongside their hardware and other apps and services from Amazon, too. Amazon said it will offer Alexa voice search for Japan soon.

The devices are on sale and will begin shipping next week, Amazon confirmed. The Japanese expansion follows a similar foray into India last week as part of a deeper push into Asia.

Amazon doesn’t dominate Japan like the U.S. and parts of Europe since local player Rakuten is the nation’s top e-commerce firm — it is also present in financial services and other areas — but that hasn’t stopped it from showing serious ambition. Amazon has offered ebooks in Japan since 2010, and today it has a full suit of Prime services that includes same day deliveries for customers in Japan.

Adding these new devices and Alexa might help boost Amazon’s presence in Japan but it is unlikely to topple Rakuten. That said, the Japanese market is the third largest global economy which makes even grabbing a small slice of the pie potentially lucrative.

Amazon hasn’t totally ignored other global markets at this point. Yesterday it unveiled a ‘basic edition’ of its Fire TV Stick that ships to over 100 markets worldwide in a follow-up to the global expansion of its Prime Video service nearly one year ago. This new Fire TV Stick is missing Alexa — since it is not supported worldwide — but it could help boost Amazon’s presence in other markets in Asia, Africa and elsewhere before the company drills deeper with these connected devices and Alexa.