Amazon has unveiled its latest Echo device, the Echo Show, which lives up to its name by supporting video capabilities on a 7-inch touchscreen that takes up more than half of the roughly square-shaped device, according to the company's website.
The Echo Show will be released on June 28 for $229.99, but was available for pre-order starting on Tuesday. The device has similar capabilities to other Echo devices, and can respond to voice-activated queries to the Alexa virtual assistant.
The device also displays video or images related to Alexa queries made by users, and has a front-facing camera that allows it to be used for video calling. In addition, it can connect to other smart cameras and smart home products around a household.
The device has been long rumored to be in development, and leaked images of it were published just a few days ago.
The Echo Show, Amazon's first Echo device to offer a visual component, suggests it has the potential to enhance the shopping process, either by helping users shop remotely via video, or shop different components of video and still images, or both, and much more. But, for now, Amazon isn't saying much about that, instead focusing on the ability to use Alexa to initiate video calls, and the addition of a video aspect to supplement information queries and applications that already are common to other Echo devices.
The unveiling of the Echo Show comes less than a month after the launch of the Echo Look, another Echo device with a front-facing camera that aims to serve as a sort of personal stylist for consumers. The narrow, oval-shaped device can take full-body photos and videos, and logs them in a "Lookbook." It also offers a "Style Check" feature that allows users to choose two photos of outfits to compare. Alexa then delivers a judgment based on automated assessment of factors such as fit, color, styling, seasons and current trends.
Amazon is setting a rapid pace with its various Echo launches at a time when the voice-activated assistant market poised to boom. About 35.6 million Americans will use a voice-activated assistant device at least once a month this year, according to a new forecast from eMarketer. If that forecast proves correct, that will represent a 128.9% jump in voice engagement with virtual assistants over last year.
Amazon’s Echo speaker will attract 70.6% of users, according to eMarketer, while Google Home will garner just 23.8% and smaller players, such as Lenovo, LG, Harmon Kardon and Mattel will make up the rest of the market. As other players enter the market, such as Microsoft with the launch of its Cortana-powered "Invoke" this week, there are a few corners of the market yet to be won over. Amazon, however, may try to hold on to its dominance in the space by finding the right Echo form factor for each and every consumer.