Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN) is hosting its annual fall product event tomorrow. Last time around, the company introduced a bona fide boatload of hardware, a staggering onslaught of new gadgets intended to make Alexa completely ubiquitous. Amazon even launched a smart microwave last year.
While there will likely be a comparable number of new products unveiled tomorrow, two rumored gadgets stand out as being especially meaningful.
Jumping into the hearables market
Reports surfaced earlier this year that Amazon was developing a pair of Alexa-powered wireless earbuds to challenge Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) AirPods. The Cupertino tech giant grabbed half of the entire hearables market in the second quarter, according to recent estimates from IDC. "Hearables" are the unfortunate term that ear-worn wearable devices have earned. Regardless, it's a booming market that Apple helped create, and Amazon wants a piece of it.
Amazon's wireless earbuds are code-named "Puget" internally and are expected to have various fitness-tracking features, according to CNBC. That could potentially include things like distance traveled, calories burned, and running speed, according to the report. The earbuds are expected to pair with any iPhone or Android phone and be aggressively priced at under $100, undercutting the competition in characteristic Amazon fashion.
Amazon has yet to incorporate health and fitness functionalities in any of its popular gadgets. Apple has enjoyed considerable success in adding an expanding array of health-oriented features to Apple Watch, which the company now bills as an "intelligent guardian for your health."
Along with smartwatches, hearables are one of the two wearable categories that promise the most growth in the years ahead. Global shipments of hearables are expected to hit 72 million this year before soaring to 105.3 million in 2023, according to IDC.
An Echo to go with Amazon Music HD
Following its introduction of a high-fidelity tier of Amazon Music, Amazon may also have a high-fidelity Echo speaker in the works. Current Echo speakers technically support Amazon Music HD, but it's unlikely that users can tell the difference with that hardware. The new speaker is expected to go hand in hand with the lossless music-streaming service.
Amazon has made other moves to improve the sound quality of Echo devices, including the Echo Sub that was launched last year with stereo support so users could pair two Echo speakers to work together. The current second-generation Echo also offers improved audio quality compared to the original version.
Apple positioned its HomePod as an audiophile-caliber smart speaker, and Alphabet subsidiary Google subsequently followed the Mac maker upmarket with the Google Home Max. It's unclear if Google has sold many of its high-end speakers, but HomePod demand has been undeniably poor.
Amazon may have a better shot at addressing the high end of the smart speaker market, as the company already enjoys a large installed base in the U.S. and will likely price the high-end Echo aggressively.