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Amazon Echo Launches in Australia, Alexa Gets An Aussie Accent

Following the launch of Amazon Australia late last year, Amazon has announced that its ‘Echo’ suite of smart speakers is now available to purchase in Australia – a move set to intensify competition within the smart speaker market, and provide rival Google a run for its money.

The company has also announced that its digital smart assistant, Alexa, will feature an Aussie accent.  Dave Limp, SVP Devices and Services for Amazon states that a range of customer data had to be acquired to give Alexa her local accent:

“The algorithms that run our natural language processing and our text to speech engine, they all use these modern techniques, the deep neural networks. And to make those work well, you feed them with data. And so we go out and collect a lot of data from customers who help us”.

Amazon’s family of Echo devices will be locally available in three versions; the standard Echo, Echo Dot and Echo Plus.

Echo Plus

Pre-orders for Australian Echo speakers are available from today (January 18th, 2018) via Amazon Australia’s website, with the devices scheduled to ship early February.

Amazon’s Echo smart speakers will also be available to purchase from retailers such as; JB Hi-Fi, Telstra, Officeworks and Myer.

The standard Echo will retail for $149, Echo Dot for $79 and Echo Plus with built-in smart hub for $229. To celebrate the launch, Amazon has offered a $30 discount off the RRP.

Consumers can purchase various Echo services together, for a further discounts.

The standard full-height Echo device claims to offer ‘2nd Generation Far-Field Voice Recognition with Beam Forming Technology’ and ‘Omnidirectional, Room-Filling Sound’.

Amazon states that Alexa will deliver an “all-new experience” Australian consumers, alongside a new ‘Alexa Australia and New Zealand edition’, with local knowledge, and skills built by Australian developers.

“Tens of millions of customers are already using Alexa, and today we’re excited to bring her to Australia with a localised experience designed for our Australian customers,” states Mr Limp.

Echo Dot

Upon launch, Amazon’s Echo devices will arrive with 10,000 skills including a suite of local options such as checking Qantas flights, obtaining surf reports, checking account balances from Westpac and NAB, and obtaining recipes from Australian cooking website ‘Taste’. The smart speakers also claim to give provide users with the ability to make and take calls, plus receive and send text message.

Amazon has also announced that its ‘Amazon Music Unlimited’ service will also be available in Australia from February 1st, 2018. The company states the platform boasts a “catalogue of more than 45 million songs” and “hundreds of hand-curated playlists and stations featuring acclaimed local talent”.

Echo device holders can access a 90 day trial of Amazon Music Unlimited for a limited time.

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