Amazon FoxSince David Rothman has picked up the audiobook capabilities of the Amazon Echo speaker – and others show you how to play Jeopardy on it – it’s worth noting that Amazon is reportedly planning a smaller, cheaper version of the same device. According to a Wall Street Journal article, citing “people familiar with the plans,” Amazon will roll out a new iteration of the Echo technology, codenamed Fox, to build on the Echo’s success and push its Alexa voice client still further. The report claims that the new Fox unit is beer-can size and resembles a Beats Pill speaker but stands vertically – see the (slightly tongue-in-cheek) in-house mockup here. Flextronics International is being tapped for the hardware, according to the WSJ, which wouldn’t be a surprise, since the electronics company dominates the global market for components.

Home automation hasn’t yet taken off big time in America, let alone elsewhere. Amazon’s Echo line could be the catalyst – if the rollout fulfills the expectations raised by the WSJ article. Amazon certainly has both the brand cachet and the range of digital services to make the Echo package appealing, as David’s writeup confirmed. Amazon’s ownership of also means that this could be a strong offering for audiobook listening, for those who want a cheaper,  more portable option. And although the Echo’s $179.99 sticker price may have put off a good many buyers, the $50 Kindle Fire demonstrates how savvy Amazon can be at pushing down the price point of a consumer market winner, once it scents the opportunity. Could we be seeing the Fox/Fire in U.S. living rooms soon? Watch – or listen to – this space…


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