Amazon Takes on Siri With 'Echo,' a Speaker You Can Talk To

Is Amazon's Echo Here to Make Shopping Easier?
Is Amazon's Echo Here to Make Shopping Easier?

By Soham Chatterjee

Do you want to talk to your speaker? (AMZN) has launched "Amazon Echo," a speaker you leave on all day and give it voice directions, like Siri on an Apple (AAPL) iPhone.

As well as taking commands such as "Play music by Bruno Mars" or "Add gelato to my shopping list," Amazon said the device accesses the Internet to answer questions such as "When is Thanksgiving?" and "What is the weather forecast?"

%VIRTUAL-WSSCourseInline-884%Amazon said the speaker, which runs on Amazon Web Services, continually learns a user's speech patterns and preferences.

Users start the speaker up saying the wake up word, "Alexa."

They can then feed Amazon Echo commands or questions or, if they want, wirelessly stream music Web services such as Spotify, iTunes and Pandora via their mobiles.

Amazon Echo is priced at $199, or $99 for members for the online retail giant's Amazon Prime loyalty scheme. It is available on an invitation-only basis in coming weeks.

Amazon has had an unusually busy year, developing a smartphone, video productions and grocery deliveries.

Last month, the company forecast sales for the crucial holiday quarter that disappointed Wall Street and investors who are eager to see Amazon curtail its ambitions and start delivering sustainable profits.