Amazon’s Alexa Voice Service has been out for over four years. The service allows third party hardware makers to make their device behave like the Echo. The service evolved over some time to eventually provide a wake word and screens to behave even more so like the Echo. This created a land rush of hardware makers to add voice to their products. Bose, Sonos, and others added voice and marketed as Alexa Built-In. However, Amazon released dozens of speakers that ranged from low and to high end and might be making device makers question the investment needed to go forward with Alexa.
Amazon released the Echo studio that is competition with Bose and Sonos. One might argue that Amazon doesn’t have enough of a brand to compete with those two speakers makers. However, that argument might not hold as more serious audiophiles will deride Sonos and Bose. If you’re already getting such a pedestrian speaker they might argue, might as well go for the one that’s more guaranteed to work well by voice.
For the higher end market, Amazon also created a means for consumers to connect their high end devices through an Amazon Echo Link and for voice with an Amazon Echo Input. A device maker could include these for a fraction of the cost of building the whole product.
Lastly, Amazon has invested many resources into onboarding hardware makers into the voice space. However, sales of voice first third party hardware are not as exciting as first party Amazon devices. Maybe there is a perception the voice experience isn’t as good. However, Amazon can afford for a hardware devices not to be a runaway success because it gets a huge valuation boost from selling services. Maybe offering some means of a revenue street could help incentivize hardware makers to keep pumping effort into developing voice first.
It’s important for Amazon to slowly fan the flames of voice interaction vs dumping competing products that compete with Alexa Built In products. Amazon may end up smothering the competition and opportunity.