Amazon’s High Hopes for Echo Sales

Amazon is hoping to sell as many as 10 million of its voice-activated Echo devices next year, which would make it a roughly $1 billion hardware business, according to a person with direct knowledge of the projections.

That would be an increase from the 3 million units Amazon hopes to sell this year—a number that was projected before the beginning of the year, said the person, who doesn’t have access to actual sales figures. That’s up from 1 million devices Amazon is thought to have sold in the latter half of 2015, after it became widely available in the U.S. Amazon hasn’t released sales figures for the device.

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Google believes it can gain share because Home will have an AI-powered virtual assistant to understand complex verbal commands and questions better than Alexa. Microsoft is making its voice assistant, Cortana, available on non-Microsoft-powered devices. Apple’s Siri voice assistant, meanwhile, has languished for years but Apple is investing in better AI for it. Siri will soon be available on Macs in addition to iOS and Apple TV.

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Amazon’s strategy may eventually resemble how Google gave away its Android mobile operating system—with some strings attached—to other phone and tablet hardware makers.