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How will Amazon's Alexa fare in Australia's smart speaker showdown?

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With Google Home already here and Apple's HomePod looming on the horizon, can Amazon's Echo speakers and talkative smart assistant find a place in Aussie homes?

Amazon is still playing its cards close to its chest when it comes to its plans for Australia and one of the biggest questions is whether we'll see Amazon's own hardware come to our shores. We've been able to buy Kindle ebook readers for a while, but we're still waiting on Amazon's range of Fire TV streaming video players and Alexa-powered Echo smart speakers.

UPDATE: Amazon has confirmed on Thursday that Alexa and Echo speakers are coming to Australia "early next year", along with Alexa developer tools, but there's no word on exact timing or which Echo models we'll get.

Keep it simple

For now, Amazon offers the underwhelming Fire TV Stick Basic Edition to 100 countries include Australia. It's hard to get excited when this "basic" model is based on old hardware and lacks Alexa but is still more expensive than the standard Fire TV available in the US.

That might be as good as it gets locally if Amazon isn't yet ready to unleash Alexa in Australia, as the Echo smart speakers are useless without Amazon's talkative smart assistant. It's not hard to import an Echo speaker and get Alexa working in Australia, but Alexa naturally won't reach its full potential until it's officially supported here.


In the US there's an impressive range of Echo speakers, from the tiny Echo Dot which rivals the budget Google Home Mini to the new Echo Plus which could be a game changer thanks to built in Zigbee low-powered wireless – letting it act as a smart home hub (like the B.One Hub).

Echo speakers aside, there are plenty of Alexa-ready devices already lurking in Australian homes, from LifX smart bulbs and Belkin's WeMo adaptors to the Sonos One speaker and white goods from the likes of LG and Westinghouse. There was an explosion in Alexa-compatible appliances at CES back in January.

Playing catch up

Unfortunately for Amazon, Alexa will start behind the eight ball in Australia. If you're already using Google or Apple's subscription music services then it makes sense to stick with their smart speakers rather than defect to Amazon.

Amazon missed the opportunity to get a foothold when it decided not to launch its Amazon Music subscription service in Australia last year alongside Amazon Prime Video. If Amazon Music still isn't ready to launch in Australia then perhaps it's better to keep the Echo speakers on hold.

Of course in the US, Amazon Music and Video come as a package deal with the Amazon Prime express delivery service. If Amazon takes the same approach in Australia then its music and video services could gain a large user base overnight, but when Amazon Prime launches in Australia it will likely be limited to the major metro areas.

It's quite possible Amazon will put Alexa, Amazon Music, Echo speakers and Fire TV all on hold until Amazon Prime is ready to go in Australia and then launch with a bang, rather than trickle out competitors to Apple and Google (which lines up with the "early next year" announcement).

Alexa-powered Amazon Echo speakers might rule US smarthomes, but the online retail giant has a major fight on its hands considering Google and Apple's grip on Aussie homes and wallets. What would it take for your home to defect to the Amazon smart ecosystem?

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