Amazon is reportedly planning on launching its smart speaker lineup in India later this year. The Amazon Echo will be backed by the company’s artificial intelligence-based (AI) platform Alexa and sources claim that while the smart speaker will initially be launched with an English interface, it will later be updated to support commands in a variety of Indian languages including Hindi, Tamil, and Marathi. The news comes from a couple of anonymous industry insiders cited by India’s Economic Times (ET), who claim to have knowledge of Amazon’s plans in regards to the smart speaker’s availability in the region.
The sources say that Amazon is currently developing a multilingual interface for the Echo smart speaker at its facility in Chennai, eastern India. Meanwhile, according to an anonymous Amazon executive cited by ET, the company is said to be working around some of the barriers presented to the Alexa platform by the Indian market, such as two-factor authentication for payments, and Amazon aims to overcome these hurdles by using passphrases and “other India-specific innovations.” Interestingly enough, the report goes on to mention that Amazon already distributed an unspecified number of Echo smart speakers to select business professionals, company executives, and analysts in India for testing purposes. One of those unnamed early adopters revealed that Alexa’s capabilities are currently limited, as users cannot tell the speaker to purchase groceries or book an Uber just yet. However, once the Amazon Echo product lineup goes live in India, it should launch with the majority of its currently existing capabilities.
As far as pricing is concerned, the Amazon Echo speakers will reportedly be released in India along with “very attractive” prices but no specific figures have been confirmed as of this writing. Nevertheless, the report does mention that some of those upcoming special offers will be associated with existing Amazon accounts in India, which should make the product more appealing to customers who already make use of Amazon’s services in the country. The Amazon Echo was first released in the United States in mid-2015, and last year, the IoT gadget made its way into the UK and Germany. The full-sized Amazon Echo smart speaker currently costs $179.99 in the United States, whereas the more compact Amazon Echo Dot is available for $49.99.