Seattle: Amazon.com Inc. used steep discounts to turn its Echo speaker into a best seller on the company’s annual Prime Day, making good on a bet to use the marketing event to push its voice-activated technology into more homes.
Even if Amazon loses money on the device sales, it gets a toehold for its Alexa platform to become more connected to shoppers who can use the devices to check the weather, stream music, hail an Uber, order pizza—and of course buy more from Amazon—by voice command.
The original Echo model was discounted by 50%, to $89.99. The smaller Echo Dot, at 30% off, and the Kindle Fire 7 tablet with Alexa were also among the top deals during the 30-hour event, according to a statement form Amazon. As of 4am in New York, Amazon said that “millions" of Prime members had already shopped on the website.
The Echo discounts come as Amazon introduces new lines of the speakers that have screens and can take pictures. It is betting heavily on the devices to keep ahead of Google and Apple Inc. in the emerging field of voice-based computing.
Now in its third year, Amazon uses the mid-summer event to try to highlight the benefits of Prime membership, such as free two-day shipping on many items, to convert the occasional Amazon shopper into a devotee. But the Prime business model is under increasing competition. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. in January began offering free two-day shipping on millions of items without a membership. And Macy’s Inc. said it’s offering free shipping on all orders, regardless of price, on the same day.
Amazon had 80 million Prime members in the US as of 31 March, double the number from two years earlier, according to Chicago research firm Consumer Intelligence Research Partners. Bloomberg