Amazon is likely to bring its smart speaker Amazon Echo to India this year, according to two people aware of the matter. The company has started preparing to launch the device along with Alexa, the artificial intelligence powered assistant developed by the retailer.
“They’re putting together content and localising the service,” one of the sources told FactorDaily. The idea is to launch the device sometime towards the second half of the year.
Amazon does not officially sell Echo in India yet. A piece brought outside the country will work but with limited functions. The company, which has earmarked nearly $5 billion to be invest in the Indian market, has been launching all its global services in the country lately.
The company, however, is keeping it under the wraps for now. “We do not comment on future plans and what we may or may not do,” an Amazon spokesperson told FactorDaily.
As we’d reported in July, Amazon launched Prime in India in December 2016. We’d also reported that the company has set aside nearly $300 million to grow its Prime’s content library. Meanwhile, the company has also kick started a project to improve its bottomline in India, a market where it is spending aggressively to woo customers.
For the US retailer, India is a key market. The retail segment in India is pegged to be over $650 billion in size and only a small fraction (about 2-3%) of sales currently happen online. It is locked in a battle with homegrown Flipkart, which is currently the market leader.
Amazon’s strong global product portfolio is an advantage it has over local players.
Chinese ecommerce giant Alibaba has also been making moves in India. Market watchers anticipate a showdown between Alibaba and Amazon in the future.
Update (10 February 2017, 11.38 PM, IST): We fixed a typo. Earlier version of the story said Amazon launched Prime in India in December 2015. It should have said 2016.