Amazon’s Echo devices and an Aussie-speaking Alexa are heading Down Under

Amazon Echo 2017 review shells
Bill Roberson/Digital Trends
Ask Alexa when she’s heading Down Under and she’ll now have an answer.

Amazon’s line of Alexa-enabled Echo smart speakers start shipping in Australia and New Zealand in early February, and are available now for pre-order, the company has announced. Its Music Unlimited streaming service will also be made available from February 1.

While it’s been possible to import and set up an Echo speaker in the antipodean nations, local support will of course make it a whole lot more useful as Alexa’s list of skills steadily increases. Aussies and Kiwis can choose from Amazon’s classic Echo speaker for 119 Australian dollars (about $95 in the U.S.) as well as others in its growing range, including the Echo Dot for AU$49 ($39), and Echo Plus for AU$199 ($159) — all powered by Alexa. And take note, those prices include introductory discounts of AU$30 ($24).

Amazon finally launched its online store in Australia toward the end of 2017, with business reportedly already brisk.

Toni Reid, vice president of Amazon Alexa, said recently that customer response to Alexa and the company’s line of Echo smart speakers has been “incredibly positive,” and that her team was looking forward to making them available for shoppers in Australia and New Zealand.

Reid added that Amazon was also looking forward to seeing what kind of innovative Alexa experiences developers in the two countries will bring to the platform.

Amazon’s Echo speaker is currently available in a limited number of markets, namely the United Kingdom and Germany, and more recently India and Japan.

So what about Apple’s HomePod and Google Home?

Apple’s smart HomePod speaker will make it to Australia in early 2018, but Google’s effort, Google Home, is already available there, helping out users in the local accent.

In a recent interview with Australian media, Google Home product manager Raunaq Shah explained that a lot of effort has gone into preparing Google’s smart speaker for the local market.

“We hired a team of writers to include all of the exclusively Australian words we wanted the system to recognize, while also adding some unique Aussie flavor to the responses … it’s so exciting to release a product that looks, sounds, and feels like an authentic Australian.”

With the Echo, Google Home, and HomePod soon to be selling alongside each other for the first time in Australia, the battle among the tech giants for smart-home supremacy Down Under is set to begin in earnest in 2018.

Update: Added launch date and prices.

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