Amazon Alexa and Echo smart speakers will become available in India as an invite-only service from October 4. Those who get registered for the devices will start getting their Echo models from end of October. There will be an initial discount of 30 per cent on the three Echo models, priced between Rs 4,499 and Rs 14,999 to mark the festival season in India. They will also come preloaded with a one-year Amazon Prime Membership. These customers will also get to preview Amazon Prime Music which will roll out in India in a couple of months.
Dave Limp, SVP, Amazon Devices, said Alexa for India uses the basic language sets used elsewhere but has been retrained for Indian accents, contexts and phrases. “Our team here has been working on this for around a year,” he said, adding that the during the invite-only period Amazon hopes to learn more about user behaviour in the country. He said Alexa here is trained to pick up common names and other nouns in India languages though it is primarily an Indian English service.
Alexa will launch in India with 10,000 skills and will have local partners like Saavn for music, Times of India for news and ESPNCricInfo for scores. It will be context aware, which means users will not need to specify they are looking for queries from an Indian perspective.
“The Amazon Echo and Alexa combo will offer users hands-free access to music, queries, news and even control of smart home devices,” Limp said, adding that Amazon is bringing all all the services to India at the very outset. However, users will not yet be able to use Alexa Echo devices to control their Amazon Fire Stick just yet.
Amazon Echo has been priced at Rs 9,999, the Echo Dot at Rs 4,499 and the Echo Plus at Rs 14,999. All three devices will get a 30 per cent discount in the initial months.
Limp said the effort has been to ensure privacy with the Echo devices and hence the Mic does not even get power supply when it is in muted mode and even when awake it starts listening only when the wake command of Alexa is given. “The other issues we tackled was latency. It doesn’t serve the purpose if the response times is a few seconds. Despite Wi-Fi we have strived to ensure that the response is just a couple of seconds away,” he said.