Amazon today announced that Australians will be able to get their hands on its Echo smart speakers from "early next year", with its Alexa smart assistant in tow.
Amazon has yet to confirm local pricing for the Echo, but it retails for just under USD$100 internationally, with the smaller Echo Dot coming in at USD$50. These convert to approximately $130 and $65, based on current exchange rates.
Amazon also confirmed that it will bring its Spotify competitor - Amazon Music Unlimited - to Australia.
It also remains to be see which Echo devices Amazon will bring to Australia; internationally, Amazon ranges five. These include the Echo Dot, the standard Echo, the Echo Plus, the Echo Spot, and the Echo Show. The first three of these are speakers, while the Spot and Show also have screens.
Much like Google Home, the Amazon Echo is a voice-activated speaker. In addition to playing music, the Echo is able to ask questions, and respond to commands that you issue to Alexa. For example, Alexa is able to provide news updates, answer general questions, play music, interact with smart home equipment, get sport scores, and of course, place orders through Amazon.
Amazon has opened up Alexa to third parties, and it can already hook into services like Uber and Spotify. Locally, Sky News, Fox Sports, Qantas, and Dimmi are working on integrations ahead of the Echo's Australian availability.
A local Echo launch is also good news for Sonos One owners, who will be finally able to use the speaker's "smart" functionality when Alexa comes down under. A Sonos spokesperson confirmed the company is "committed to bringing Alexa voice control to Sonos in Australia and New Zealand as soon as possible".
Amazon was widely expected to launch a full-fledged Australian branch of its online marketplace last Friday, to coincide with "Black Friday". There's still no clear date for Amazon's Australian launch, but the early 2018 release date for Amazon Echo and Amazon Music Unlimited seems to suggest it might not happen before the end of the year.