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Amazon Is Set to Unveil New Gadgets as Echo Competitors Emerge

(Bloomberg) -- Inc. will unveil new gadgets Wednesday at an event in Seattle, joining the rush of technology products vying for consumers’ attention as the holiday shopping season approaches.

The online retail giant will hold a press conference at 10:30 a.m. local time at one of the company’s new buildings at its headquarters downtown. At the core of Amazon’s hardware lineup are its Echo voice-activated speakers and Alexa virtual assistant, which can play music, get sports scores, and make phone calls, just like Apple Inc.’s Siri, but can also connect to Amazon’s retail services to make purchases.

Amazon’s new offerings follow Apple Inc.’s splashy event earlier this month to show off the latest iPhones. Next week, Google will announce new Pixel smartphones and a smaller Home smart speaker.

Here’s what Amazon has been cooking up in recent months, and at least some of these products are likely to make an appearance at today’s launch, according to product leaks and reports.

An updated version of the Echo speaker to go up against the better sound of Apple’s rival HomePod, which will be released in December. A new high-end Fire TV set-top box that has its own microphones for shouting Alexa commands across the living room. A new mid-market video-streaming Fire TV stick without microphones that is faster than the entry-level Fire TV stick. This would be like a souped-up Google Chromecast. A connected home-security system that would compete with the new Nest Secure system, unveiled by the Alphabet Inc. unit last week. Glasses with built-in Alexa voice functionality, which would let the wearer give commands and listen to information, according to the Financial Times.
The new products follow an already packed year of new gadgets for the company. Earlier this year, Amazon introduced the Echo Show, a speaker with a tablet-sized touchscreen; cheaper tablets; and an Echo Look device with a camera for making wardrobe suggestions.

While hardware products aren’t the center of Amazon’s business, as they are for Apple, they’re important because they raise awareness for its main online retail business and give consumers a conduit to buy more products and services from Amazon. The company’s consumer products have helped pave the way for the in-home smart-speaker industry, and Amazon’s cheaper offerings pushed tablet prices down a few years ago.

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