New Delhi: Amazon Inc. on Wednesday launched its popular voice-controlled Amazon Echo line of speakers in India starting at Rs4,499.

The product, launched months after Amazon introduced its content-streaming FireTV Stick in the Capital, will initially be available on invite-only basis with shipments starting 30 October.

Powered by Amazon’s indigenous voice assistant Alexa, Echo is available in three models: besides the entry-level Echo Dot, the range includes the standard Echo priced Rs9,999 and Echo Plus priced Rs14,999. All three models represent the second-generation of Echo that Amazon unveiled in Seattle last week.

Amazon has lined up lucrative offers for early “eligible" buyers in India, the fourth market after the US, UK and Germany to receive the product. Customers will receive a one-year free subscription of Amazon Prime (which includes access to Amazon Prime Video and next-day delivery on some products bought on Amazon) and a 30% discount on the retail price during the festive season. It did not specify the exact period.

Echo speakers will also be available at Croma, Reliance Digital stores and other offline retailers, the company said.

With Echo, Amazon has introduced Prime Music, its on-demand online music streaming service, which will be made available under a preview offer to Echo buyers. Prime Music will be formally rolled out over the next few months and come bundled with Amazon Prime subscription.

“We started development on Echo seven years ago. We launched it in a similar manner in the US through invitation three years ago," said Dave Limp, senior vice president, Amazon Devices and Services. “Last year we brought Alexa to the first countries outside of the US. India is our fourth market and we will be bringing it to Japan later this year."

Limp leads the devices team for Amazon, who’s portfolio Includes Kindle e-book reader, FireTV Stick, Fire Tablet and Echo speaker. The team is based out of offices in Seattle, California and Chennai, and other smaller locations.

Limp said Echo is “incredibly popular" in all the markets it sells in and expects handsome response from Indian customers. “I am very excited about the launch and I think it will do well here… When you think about how many Bluetooth speakers have been sold in India and you combine it with something like this and its just 4,499, it’s an incredible combination," he said.

Unlike most wireless speakers in the market, Amazon Echo is connected to the internet and works on voice input which gives the device a wide range of capabilities. It can answers questions, check the weather, play music, set an alarm and even control smart appliances at homes through voice commands.

The Indian version gets an Indian-accented voice output. Amazon said it trained—and continues to train—the voice assistant to understand Indian accents and certain words in Hindi and other vernacular languages though the primary language for input is English.

Amazon has partnered with services providers like Ola and Uber for booking cabs, TuneIn and Saavn for music streaming, ESPNcrickinfo for news, Freshmenu for food ordering and others. Also, Indian developers were handed out ‘Alexa Skill Kits’ to develop local services applications for Alexa voice assistant.

“It (Alexa Skills Kit) gives developers the ability to add more knowledge in the form of skills to Alexa… Around 10,000 of them will go live at the launch" Limp said. “The other thing is Alexa Voice Service (AVS), which is about taking the Alexa service and bringing it to other kinds of devices… We want customers have choices. AVS will be launching with partners in mobile phones like Motorola, other speaker manufacturers like Harman Kardon and even car companies like Ford."

Close