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OZ Misses Out On Amazon Echo Speakers Because of OZ “Twang”

Australia has missed out on getting the exiting new Amazon voice controlled Echo speakers and it could be down to the Australian “twang”.

The UK, Germany and Austria will get them before Xmas but not Australia.

Until now, the company sold its voice-controlled devices only in the US.

The machines can answer questions, control other internet-connected devices, build shopping lists and link in to dozens of third-party services including Spotify, Uber and various news services.

Experts say they appeal to early adopters’ sense of curiosity but tend to be a harder sell to others.amazon-echo-review

“[Echo’s] been relatively successful in the US because it is so easy to use,” said Jessica Ekholm from the Gartner Group.

“But for many the question remains: why would they want a smart home?”

Privacy campaigners have also raised concerns about the use of such listening technology.

Analysts have estimated that between 1.6 million and five million of the speakers were sold between their release in November 2014 and June 2016.

One of the reasons Amazon waited until now to launch the speakers outside the US was to ensure they could handle local accents.

At present, the devices’ main competition are smartphone-, TV- and PC-based virtual assistants, including Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana and Google Now.

Google has also announced plans to sell an artificial-intelligence-powered speaker of its own later this year.

Voice dependent

The UK and Germany are being offered two types of speakers:

the original Echo – a cylindrical mono speaker fitted with seven microphones, which automatically starts listening when the user mentions Alexa – the name of its virtual assistant – or an alternative wake word.

the Dot – which resembles a hockey puck. It has a similar voice-activated microphone array to the Echo, but a much smaller speaker. It is designed to be linked to third-party audio equipment via Bluetooth or a wired connection, and is marketed as a way to extend Alexa into additional rooms.

Amazon says its speakers will not upload sounds to its servers unless they hear a wake word.