Framingham, Mass. — Amazon has extended distribution of its Echo smart speaker to Staples, making it the exclusive third-party retailer of the Cloud-based device.
The No. 1 office-supply chain is selling it online only, at the same $179 price point as Amazon, starting today.
The e-tailer first released the voice-controlled device into general distribution in June, following nearly four years of development and a limited, invitation-only trial that began last year.
The 9.25-inch-tall cylindrical speaker features Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, and dual downward-firing drivers for immersive, omnidirectional audio. But the real differentiator is its array of seven microphones that can pick up the user’s voice in a noisy room. With them owners can access “Alexa,” Amazon’s Cloud-based answer to Siri, Google Now and Cortana, which can provide news, weather, traffic, sports, music and information via natural language voice commands.
Amazon is also offering Alexa free to CE vendors, automakers and other commercial manufacturers, who will be able to integrate the Alexa Voice Service (AVS) into any Internet-connected device with a speaker and microphone using only a few lines of code.
Staples is showcasing Echo on a dedicated page within its e-commerce site at Staples.com/AmazonEcho.
See a roundup of the latest in home automation here.