Amazon Working on Echo Successor to Rival Apple's HomePod
Jul 13, 2017 4:18 am PDT by Tim Hardwick
Amazon is reportedly working on a successor to its Echo connected smart speaker for release later this year in a clear attempt to one-up Apple and its HomePod speaker, which is due to launch this December.

Sources who saw a working unit spoke to Engadget, claiming that the new Echo will improve on the first speaker "in every way", being shorter and slimmer than the original, with rounded edges and a cloth-like covering preferred over the current Echo's plastic shell and flat ends.


Perhaps unsurprisingly given Apple's focus on the HomePod music experience, Amazon is aiming to significantly improve the sound quality of the next Echo, according to sources. The company's new flagship smart speaker will feature multiple tweeters as opposed to just one large one (Apple's HomePod packs in seven tweeters).

Amazon is also reportedly enhancing the new Echo's far-field microphone technology, but it's not clear how. The current Echo has a seven-mic array, while the HomePod has six and Google Home has two, although the software running the mics significantly dictates their listening quality.

Pricing remains unknown, but Amazon's new Echo is likely to significantly undercut Apple's HomePod, which will retail at $349 and go up against the likes of Sonos in the premium speaker market. The existing Echo costs $180 as a reference.

First impressions of Apple's HomePod were largely positive following its unveiling in June, with journalists agreeing that the 7-inch tall device easily beats the Sonos Play:3 and 9-inch-tall Amazon Echo in terms of pure music playback quality. The HomePod initializes by playing 360-degree audio and listening back so that it can dynamically adjust sound output to fit environmental acoustics. Apple claimed it honed the technology over many years, so Amazon's next smart speaker has plenty to live up to.

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Top Rated Comments

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12 months ago
I bought an Echo for 90 bucks on Prime day and Apple is trying to get $350 for Apple Home or whatever. Get lost.

Echo does everything I need it to.
Rating: 18 Votes
12 months ago
I must say, it'll certainly be easier to give Echo better sound than to make Siri a better helper.

Here's one of a thousand examples, screen shot from yesterday. Why do I even bother anymore?

Rating: 15 Votes
12 months ago

I bought an Echo for 90 bucks on Prime day and Apple is trying to get $350 for Apple Home or whatever. Get lost.

Echo does everything I need it to.

Prime day was 2 days ago. How can you know it can do everything you need it to?
Rating: 14 Votes
12 months ago

I bought an Echo for 90 bucks on Prime day and Apple is trying to get $350 for Apple Home or whatever. Get lost.

Echo does everything I need it to.

HomePod isn’t trying to compete with the Echo, it’s competing with Sonos.
Rating: 13 Votes
12 months ago

I must say, it'll certainly be easier to give Echo better sound than to make Siri a better helper.

Here's one of a thousand examples, screen shot from yesterday. Why do I even bother anymore?


That's pathetic.

Google Assistant, for comparison:
Rating: 13 Votes
12 months ago

Prime day was 2 days ago. How can you know it can do everything you need it to?


It plays music, it turns off and on a few lights and it answers questions.

It works a heck of a lot better than Siri has on any of my iPhones.
Rating: 10 Votes
12 months ago
As soon as HomePod hit, it seemed obvious that the competitors in this space faced certain challenges.

For Apple, the biggest challenge appeared to be to evolve Siri to be as good as or better than Alexa in all functions that Alexa does with one of these products.

For Amazon, the biggest challenge was updating the quality of the speaker to be as good or better than the (apparent superior) speaker quality in HomePod.

Now ponder this: which challenge seems easiest to realize?

In other words, how relatively difficult will it be for Apple to rapidly evolve Siri to be better than Alexa to help justify the HomePod price vs. how hard will it be for Amazon to change the speaker? And note the latter could change the speaker and charge upwards of double+ their (oft-run sale) price and still be priced substantially lower than HomePod.

The magic in Apple being able to command an Apple premium is always in the software, not the hardware. In this case, I foresee Amazon being able to match+ the quality of sound of HomePod AND significantly undercut HomePod's price... or even spin 2+ Alexa 2s/Pros for the price of 1 HomePod.

This is akin to the long-term idea of an Apple Television. We all know Apple would have sourced the panel from Samsung, LG or similar. And those suppliers would probably put the exact same panel in their own-branded "case" priced without Apple's margin. Nobody could make an argument that the Apple-branded version of that TV had a superior picture because the panel would be the exact same panel. So what might justify the Apple markup? (Maybe) the unique software that would be exclusively available in the Apple version?

So back to topic. If one buys the above, it seems the challenge for Apple is to make Siri superior to Alexa in how it is used with this kind of product. Else, Amazon, Google, etc are all well capable of assembling the same or better hardware and pricing it lower than Apple. And if Amazon, Google, etc software is generally deemed superior, HomePod is going to be challenged to win over the non-fanatic masses.

That's no Apple attack or putdown- just basically pointing out that it appears Apple is trying to rationalize the Apple price on a hardware advantage (that is not yet objectively verified in the field). Yet Apple traditionally "wins" support for Apple pricing with superior (and exclusive) software. Putting a better speaker into this kind of product is probably as tough as putting better speakers in place of the factory ones in our cars. IMO, the challenge for Apple to "win" at about triple the (oft-sale) pricing of competitors is in making Siri leap well ahead of the next generation Siri's owned by the competition. If they don't do that, then it seems it's a match of who will sell comparable hardware for less... a game that Apple seems to be unable to ever win because Apple loves it's fat margins. Amazon, Google, etc tend to trade margin for share... just as PCs did vs. the technically-superior Macs long ago.
Rating: 7 Votes
12 months ago

I must say, it'll certainly be easier to give Echo better sound than to make Siri a better helper.

Here's one of a thousand examples, screen shot from yesterday. Why do I even bother anymore?

Rating: 7 Votes
12 months ago
I would bet the vast, vast majority of customers will see HomePod as competing with Google Home and Echo, rather than Sonos, and will immediately be turned off by the price.

HomePod isn’t trying to compete with the Echo, it’s competing with Sonos.

Rating: 6 Votes
12 months ago
I was in the market for a wireless speaker for my Mac, but I think the HomePod might be a little overkill, especially at that price. I picked up an Echo on Prime day too, so far I think it's great.
Rating: 5 Votes

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