It took more than two years, but Amazon's connected speaker, the Echo, has finally arrived in Europe. At a launch event in London today, the company confirmed that the standard Echo and the Echo Dot (both in a new white color) will soon go on sale UK and Germany, bringing with them the retailer's clever AI assistant, Alexa -- who now has an English accent. Pre-orders open later today, with a new white variant of the £150/€180 Echo shipping on September 28th, while the £50/$50/€60 Dot will arrive on October 20th. For the next two days, Amazon UK is also knocking £50 off the Echo for Prime customers.
In the US, Echo users have enjoyed the fruits of numerous partnerships Amazon has struck up over the years. With Alexa's help, owners have been able to hail a cab via Uber, control their smart door lock and even have their Twitter timeline read back to them. Some of these partnerships will carry across, thanks to the Alexa Skills repository, but many European (specifically UK) brands have taken the opportunity to roll out their own integrations. Today, Sky Sports, TuneIn, Just Eat, Skyscanner and Uber announced they will be supporting Alexa when she arrives later this month.
Out of the box, the Echo can connect to your streaming music accounts to free up your smartphone, read back audiobooks, create to-do lists, tell you the time and the weather and give you up-to-the-minute news updates. Even before it hosted an event to share news of the Echo's expansion, Amazon let slip that the Echo Dot would be given a drastic price cut. Once $90, the Dot is now $50 in the US, and that lower price is set on the other side of the Atlantic too.
The company appears keen to get Alexa in every home, whether it's via one of its connected speakers or its new Fire HD 8, allowing it to get ahead of both Apple and Google in the battle to make our homes smarter. It's also keen to show off that Alexa can understand British spellings, tap local news sources for updates and understand the context behind "how tall is the Gherkin?"
If one thing is for sure, the Echo will be hard to get ahold of. Since the original launched in 2014, Amazon and its partners have consistently been rushing to keep up with demand. The same goes for the Dot, which has been sold out in the US since July. If you're picking Amazon over Google or Apple's Home platform, you may want to move quickly.