Amazon.com announced last Thursday that third-party manufacturers would now be able to use its High-Performance 7-Mic Voice Processing Technology in their products. The company will decide if other firms can make use of the tech behind the Echo.
Developers interested in building Alexa-assisted devices with Amazon Echo’s internal hardware must fill a form and request an invite. If approved, manufacturing and marketing must meet Amazon’s product standards.
The announcement comes as the latest power move by Amazon in the battle for the smart home hub segment, a contest in which it is up against Google Home. Some rumors say Apple may be looking into bringing Siri to the fight as a third contender.
Alexa is becoming very popular among smart tech manufacturers
Amazon opening up is not a new thing. It has already partnered up with some industry leaders ranging from the automotive to the door lock sector to enable Alexa’s smarts in their products.
Original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) in China and other emerging economies took notice of the wild success of this new phenomenon in tech and started making cheap knockoff versions that would somehow work as IoT hubs like the Echo.
Amazon wants nothing to do with this bad reputation, and its solution doesn’t cut corners in any way. The online retail giant is giving everyone it deems worthy of them the keys to one of its most successful products. Both hardware and software will be available to firms if they qualify.
“WITH THIS NEW REFERENCE SOLUTION, DEVELOPERS CAN DESIGN PRODUCTS WITH THE SAME UNIQUE 7-MIC CIRCULAR ARRAY, BEAMFORMING TECHNOLOGY, AND VOICE PROCESSING SOFTWARE THAT HAVE MADE AMAZON ECHO SO POPULAR,” said Priya Abani, Director of Amazon Alexa.
While the company has not released recent sales figures of the Amazon Echo and Echo Dot, experts estimate nearly 10 million units sold around the world so far and $20 billion in revenue by 2020 from product sales and associated Alexa services.
Amazon is ahead of Google and the competition
Jeff Bezos and company have in their hands what many claim is the best listener of all current smart speakers. The Echo has the benefit of being consumer-oriented in more than one way while others are sticking with being strictly voice assistants.
Google Home is the first name that comes to mind, of course, as the natural Silicon Valley rival of Amazon’s hub. The search giant has yet to include support for many features to make the Home truly competitive, and it will have to do so fast if it wants to stay relevant in the market.
What’s more, it may have to follow a similar strategy to that of Amazon and open up their system for third parties to make their own Google Assistant-powered devices. It should be no trouble, given that Android is also available to developers and the most widespread mobile OS in the world.
Apple is reportedly considering a similar product with Siri’s smarts inside, but representatives have denied such rumors. For the time being, Siri is officially staying as the integrated AI of Mac’s platforms only. Meanwhile, Amazon launched Alexa on the App Store last month.