Amazon held its annual event to show off new devices yesterday, including the latest additions to its Echo range of smart speakers and displays. There’s a redesigned Echo Show display with spatial audio, and two new Echo Pop Kids models with branding from Marvel’s Avengers and Disney Princesses according to preference.
There’s also an ‘Explore with Alexa’ feature that aims to spark child-safe conversations with Amazon’s virtual assistant. A more positive development following a $25m children’s privacy settlement with US regulator the FTC earlier this year.
New Echos reminded us to check in on how the overall market for smart speakers is doing – a once-ubiquitous topic at music industry conferences that has quietened down in recent years. It turns out the market has challenges. Research firm IDC claimed that global shipments of smart speakers were down 15.4% year-on-year in the first quarter of 2023. Rival Canalys claimed that Q1 was the sixth consecutive quarter of year-on-year declines, meanwhile.
This isn’t just an Amazon problem – Canalys estimated that it had a 29% share of smart speaker shipments in Q1 – but as the biggest manufacturer, sales of its new Echos will be watched closely to spot any potential rebound.