No, the Echo Plus is not technically a "premium" smart speaker
Amazon is making plenty of headlines right now as bargain hunters are gearing up for the biggest shopping days of the summer
, but the e-commerce giant is also more focused than ever on the consumer electronics business, reportedly planning to expand an already wide-ranging family of in-house hardware devices before long.
The Echo product lineup currently includes everything from a $30 Wall Clock
and $50 Dot
to a $150 second-gen Plus
with a built-in smart home hub and $230 second-gen Echo Show
with a 10.1-inch touchscreen. But even though the Seattle-based company essentially came up with the smart speaker concept, releasing the original Echo years before Google and Apple threw their hats in the ring, Amazon has yet to sell a so-called "premium" model.
According to Bloomberg's typically reliable inside sources
, such a high-end Echo variant is finally in the works, eyeing a commercial debut "by next year." The unnamed Alexa-powered smart speaker is expected to challenge the Siri-controlled HomePod
and Google Assistant
-enabled Home Max
with top-notch audio performance made possible by a refined design sporting "at least four tweeters."
In order to pull that off, Amazon will probably have to widen the cylindrical speaker and presumably add some heft to accommodate a bunch of new, higher-quality components. Naturally, that means this bad boy should be significantly costlier than all existing Echo models, although there's no word on an exact number yet. For perspective, the Google Home Max and Apple HomePod are priced at $299 after launching with $399 and $349 tags attached to their names.
While it's impossible to know just how successful these particular versions have proven, Amazon is certainly facing a stiff challenge from Google's smart speaker family in a market the e-commerce giant created and continues to dominate
It's worth pointing out that this "high-end Echo" could still be canceled or indefinitely shelved, and the same goes for a "home robot" known internally as Vesta and currently planned to accept voice commands for performing various tasks around the house. Amazon also has "minor updates" for other Echo models scheduled for a fall release and AirPods-rivaling wireless earbuds
with Alexa support that could see daylight "as early as this year."