Amazon.com is developing a higher quality version of the Echo speaker and ramping up work on its home robot.
The company plans to release the new Echo by next year, according to Bloomberg. Prototypes of the cylindrical speaker are said to be wider than the current Echo to squeeze in additional components including at least four tweeters. The robot has wheels and can be controlled by Alexa voice commands.
Both devices are being developed by Amazon Lab126, a research and development arm based in Sunnyvale, California.
The Echo, which went on sale in 2015, has lately lost some ground to the Sonos One, Apple HomePod and Google Home Max -- all of which claim to deliver superior audio. Google now has 31% of the market, while the rest have a combined 12%. The HomePod isn’t selling as well as Apple expected, and the company recently dropped the price.
Amazon has previously attempted to improve the Echo’s sound with tweaks and offered a standalone subwoofer and device that links the speakers to a stereo. Amazon is also planning a high-fidelity version of its music service, according to Music Business Worldwide, that should mesh better with the new Echo. Amazon could still decide not to proceed with the new high-end Echo.
Amazon plans to start selling voice-controlled earbuds to rival Apple’s AirPods as early as this year, Bloomberg reported in April. The Echo range will also receive minor updates this fall, people familiar with the plans said.
Amazon declined to comment.