Your Echo choices get even more confusing as you start thinking about bringing more than one speaker into your home. The adorable Echo Spot seems like it'd make a decent connected alarm clock — you can even watch a bit of video and take calls on its tiny 2.5-inch screen. But at $130, it also seems indulgent. For $30 less, you could get the new Echo with its improved speakers. The Spot is basically a cuter version of the $230 Echo Show, but that device's bigger screen makes it much more useful. You could, for example, watch Amazon Prime videos, or see responses from your Alexa queries.
Amazon's $50 Echo Dot is a far cheaper way to bring Alexa into your bedroom, or you could just buy it together with Fire TV devices for an additional $10. At this point, it's almost like the company is giving the Echo Dot away (something it actually did in August). It's understandable why. It's more important for Amazon to expand its Echo system than it is for it to make a huge profit on hardware. And the Dot is ideal for making existing Echo users even more reliant on Alexa (and consequently, all of Amazon's services).
The Echo Connect is the most curious new device from Amazon. It plugs into landline phones and instantly turns all of your Echo devices into speakerphones. Sure, it's pretty useless for people without landlines, but for users that just can't give up a physical phone line, it makes things like checking up on family much easier. It's intriguing to see Amazon innovating for users who rely on older technology — how often do we see that as tech companies chase what's new? At the same time, that's also a crowd that might be less inclined to try out new gadgets. It seems like a gamble to expect landline users to adopt something as advanced as a voice-powered speakerphone.
It's hard to make heads or tails of the Echo Button until we get our hands on it, but like the Echo Look camera, it seems more experimental than something Amazon truly expects to take off. It makes sense for the company to play around with what the Echo devices can do. Third-party companies are also throwing Alexa into things like portable radios, so why not try new things? Back at CES, it was clear that the Alexa ecosystem was exploding. It'll only have more room to grow if Amazon manages to bring the virtual assistant into new territory.
Ultimately, a wider variety of Echo devices is a good problem for Amazon. It may get tougher for consumers to figure out what they need, but it also gives the company more ways to fit Alexa into their lives. It's also important that Amazon doesn't lose its ability to experiment. The Echo was a risk when it debuted in 2014, like the Kindle before it. Sometimes those experiments leads to failure, like the Fire Phone. But Amazon, like most tech companies, won't truly innovate if they're playing it safe.