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Echo Gains Skills and Boosts Amazon’s Competitiveness

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Echo gets intercom feature

Just as Amazon (AMZN) is preparing to meet investors and analysts to discuss its 1Q18 results, its Echo device has gained skills and given Amazon more of an edge in the increasingly competitive smart speaker market. In the first week of April, Amazon introduced Alexa Announcements, a feature that transforms Echo into an in-house intercom system for broadcasting messages to other speakers in different rooms. The Echo intercom feature could be ideal for a large household. For instance, parents could use the Echo intercom feature to relay a message that dinner is ready, saving time and energy.

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Catching up with Google

The intercom feature is first rolling out to Echo users in the United States and Canada. Google’s (GOOGL) competing smart speaker, Google Home, has an intercom feature, so Amazon is essentially catching up on that front. This move is necessary considering that the smart speaker market is shaping up to be a highly competitive scene—not just in North America, but also overseas, where Alibaba (BABA) and Baidu (BIDU) have rival products.

Amazon currently enjoys a strong lead

The intercom feature could bolster Echo’s customer appeal, potentially boosting its sales and giving Amazon more strength to fight back against the competition. According to eMarketer, Amazon enjoys a comfortable lead in the US smart speaker market, controlling more than 70% of it in 2017. In comparison, Google had a 23.8% share, and other players such as Apple and Microsoft (MSFT) held a 5.6% share.

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