Amazon was first to market with a smart speaker with the original Amazon Echo, it started the trend that Google, Apple, and Microsoft have all followed, and Samsung is soon to follow suit, according to reports. Amazon is apparently gearing up for round two with a launch of an Amazon Echo 2 in December this year.
A follow-up model has already been launched recently, but this is not a full blown successor; the Echo Show simply modifies the original design with a 7in display and the ability to conduct calls. The Amazon Echo 2 (probably a working title) will allegedly sport a very similar design to Apple's recently launched Apple HomePod.
Design-wise that means a profile and shape that is more squat; shorter and wider, and it'll likely mimic the HomePod's exterior that is shrouded in fabric. Reportedly the sound quality will be amped up with the addition of more tweeters, while recording will be improved with better quality microphones. The original Echo had seven microphones, but although we know the sequel will have better ones, we don't know how many it will have.
Certainly it'll be interesting to see how the Echo 2 fares when it hits the market. Amazon is surely aware that it has some stiff competition this time around, where last time it easily breezed onto a completely uncontested market and took majority of the share for a very long time - it's never dipped below 70%. Google Home is second most popular with 20% of the market.
But as well as competing with Google Home and Apple HomePod (which runs Siri on an Apple Beats speaker), the Amazon Echo 2 will have to fend off Microsoft's Invoke, which will use premium Harman Kardon speakers and Microsoft's Cortana AI. Samsung is also prepping a Bixby AI speaker dubbed "Vega", but just as with the Galaxy S8, the firm is reportedly having trouble getting Bixby up and running properly.
We'd expect Google will announce a Google Home successor before December as well.
Of all its competitors, Apple is one that Amazon may well be able to outmanoeuvre, in the sense that, as per usual, Apple has a tendency to drink its own Kool Aid and price everything high. The Apple HomePod costs a whopping $349, while Amazon's Echo has been priced at $179.99 with regular sales deals cutting it as low as $89.99 for limited periods.
Although the Echo 2 isn't expected to land until December - just in time for a holiday rush - it's speculated that it could be announced as early as October.