According to two sources who are in the know, Amazon’s famous smart speaker Echo, powered by Amazon’s voice assistant Alexa will be released in India by the end of this year. And yes, you will no longer have to switch the language to English to use it!
Similar to Amazon Echo is Google Home. Both speakers allow users to order the assistants to carry out tasks while sitting in the comfort of one’s house or office. But, targeting an Indian audience implies a whole lot of changes that Amazon will have to make. The first thing it will have to break is the language barrier as not everyone will be comfortable with English.
While the speakers will initially use English, it will later be updated to include Marathi, Tamil, and Hindi. You will then be able to use Alexa to book your groceries online, book an Uber, or even just play your favourite music.
While one of the sources revealed that this multilingual interface is currently being developed in Chennai in an Amazon facility, there has been no official word from Amazon yet.
Apart from the language barrier, the Echo will also have to make accommodations for larger family structures than what it is used to as well as two-factor authentication. Presently, Amazon intends to target the same 1% that is using Amazon Prime and then expand its customer base from there.
The Echo has been given to a few top company executives and business professionals as well as analysts in India to see how it works and what needs to be changed. One person who has been using it for a month said,
As of now, there is still a barrier to the extent of Alexa’s capabilities because you cannot use it to purchase groceries from a local store or book yourself an Uber.
However, when connected to your home WiFi you can get Alexa to draft and send work emails, text messages, help children with their homework ranging from mat hematics to history lessons, set up re minders, check food recipes, play music or a movie on Amazon Prime Video, and even do your shopping from Amazon
Once it is released officially, the Alexa powered Echo is expected to make every home a smart home and reduce the amount of effort you will have to put into even simple daily tasks. According to a senior executive from Amazon,
We will work around the barriers using passphrases and other India-specific innovations. We expect Amazon to launch (Alexa and Echo) in the Indian market with very attractive pricing offers in the beginning, a similar strategy used with Amazon Prime Video and something that worked well. These offerings are likely to be linked with existing users of Amazon’s services in India, making it more appealing for them