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Amazon Just Announced a Boatload of New Hardware

By Evan Niu, CFA – Sep 20, 2018 at 7:08PM

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The e-commerce giant has made its first-party hardware ambitions abundantly clear.

The rumors were true! (AMZN -0.82%) indeed had myriad products waiting in the wings, which the e-commerce behemoth officially announced today at a hardware event in Seattle. In fact, there were quite a few more gadgets than expected -- 14 in total -- spanning numerous product categories, many of which Amazon has never entered until now. The sheer scale of the unveilings shows that Amazon's first-party hardware ambitions are only going to get bigger over time.

Here's everything that Amazon just showed off and what investors need to know.

Echo Show on a counter next to a wire bowl holding lemons and limes

Echo Show. Image source: Amazon.

This is a ton of stuff

For starters, here's a list of the new products, most of which bear the Echo brand:

  • Echo Dot ($50): A refreshed version of Amazon's puck-sized smart speaker. The new model includes a louder speaker and a new fabric design that is similar to the Google Home Mini (which outsold the Echo Dot last quarter).
  • Echo Plus ($150): The first Echo Plus was announced a year ago and included smart-home hub functionality. This year's refresh adds an outer layer of fabric as well as local voice control, which allows voice controls to remain active even without an internet connection. It now also has a temperature sensor.
  • Echo Show ($230): The Echo Show is getting a much larger 10-inch display, up from the original version's 7-inch display. It also gets smart-home hub functionality and a new fabric design.
  • Echo Auto ($50): You'll soon be able to add Alexa to any car with a small dashboard-mounted accessory that has a horizontal blue LED strip. It can connect to your car with Bluetooth or a headphone jack, and uses your phone's cell connection and the standard 12V outlet for power.
  • Echo Wall Clock ($30): Pretty straightforward -- it's an analog wall clock that can manage timers, alarms, and reminders.
  • Echo Input ($35): Add Alexa to any existing speaker setup with this puck-sized device. Comparable to the Echo Dot's functionality, which can be plugged into external speakers, except Echo Input has no speaker at all.
  • Echo Sub ($130): A 6-inch subwoofer that can amplify the bass of your Echo setup and supports stereo pairing.
  • Echo Link ($200): Delivers high-fidelity music after connecting to receiver or amplifier.
  • Echo Link Amp ($300): Includes an integrated amplifier to stream high-fidelity music.
  • AmazonBasics Microwave ($60): Just what everyone has been in desperate need of: a voice-controlled smart microwave. It includes a dedicated Dash button that can order popcorn.
  • Amazon Smart Plug ($25): A smart power outlet that you can plug appliances into and control with Alexa.
  • Alexa Guard (no price yet): A service that turns Echo devices into a security system by listening for things like glass breaking or a smoke detector going off. You activate it when you leave your house, and Alexa Guard can even automate turning lights on and off throughout your house to make it look like you're home.
  • Ring Stick Up Cam ($180): An update to the original Ring Stick Up Camera, this stationary security camera can be used indoors or outdoors. The specs appear similar to the prior model.
  • Fire TV Recast ($230 to $280): A set-top box that allows you to stream live TV through a Fire TV, as well as record TV to view later. There will be a two-tuner, 500 GB model for $230, as well as a four-tuner, 1 TB model for $280. Fire TV Recast can also stream stored content directly to your mobile devices via the Fire TV companion app.

Competing with rivals

With as many products that are listed above, Amazon is declaring war on many of its rivals.

By jumping into high-fidelity multiroom audio, Amazon will be taking on newly public Sonos as well as intensifying its pressure on Apple's (AAPL -0.40%) HomePod. Amazon now has yet another way to hitch a ride in the car, in addition to the growing number of automakers that are already integrating Alexa directly. Apple and Alphabet (GOOG -1.65%) (GOOGL -1.40%) mostly use smartphones as their preferred automotive route with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, respectively, but Fire Phone flamed out long ago.

Echo Auto on a car's dashboard

Echo Auto. Image source: Amazon.

Amazon started competing more directly with Google-owned Nest when it acquired Ring for $1 billion earlier this year, and adding some basic home security functionalities suggests a full-fledged security system is not out of the question. TiVo has been struggling for years due to cord-cutting and has made little progress transitioning to the streaming era; the last thing it needs is to get crushed by Amazon.

This is also the first time that Amazon has released a home appliance.

Competing with partners

In case it wasn't clear by now, Amazon also signaled that it has no qualms with competing with its partners, either. Do you remember how the original Echo Show essentially ripped off Nucleus, a small start-up that Amazon invested in through its Alexa Fund, which was intended to be a start-up incubator for its Alexa ecosystem?

Consider ecobee, another smart-home technology company that Alexa Fund invested in and Amazon will now compete with. While ecobee no longer sells smart plugs, there should be little doubt that Amazon's new Smart Plug is the first of many smart-home accessories to come. While Amazon has ended up acquiring a handful of the companies it has invested in, it's not going to buy all of them, and its partners shouldn't be surprised if/when Amazon decides to aggressively undercut them.

John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods Market, an Amazon subsidiary, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. Suzanne Frey, an executive at Alphabet, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. Evan Niu, CFA owns shares of Apple. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Alphabet (A shares), Alphabet (C shares), Amazon, and Apple. The Motley Fool has the following options: long January 2020 $150 calls on Apple and short January 2020 $155 calls on Apple. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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