It’s unclear how commercially successful the new devices will be. Amazon has often taken a scattershot approach to its hardware initiatives, releasing not only massively successful products like the Echo home devices, but also experimental projects like Echo Buttons, a light-up device designed for gaming.
But the move signifies Amazon’s heavy interest in the connected home. The amplifier, for example, can be used as the central audio panel to control multiple speakers that are set up across the home. The microwave can make Alexa a key part of the kitchen.
Earlier this year, Amazon acquired the smart doorbell maker Ring, which also makes devices that are compatible with Alexa. The company is reported to be working on a secretive home robot, as well, according to Bloomberg.
Having its own home appliances also opens up a new sales channel for Amazon. By partnering with smart home installation companies, Amazon can make its Alexa-powered devices more readily available in new homes. Sonos, for example, has a similar business model, as it said in its quarterly filing that it relies on “custom installers of home audio systems for a significant portion of our sale.”
Amazon is showing signs of accelerating partnerships with home builders. Earlier this year, it partnered with home builder Lennar to include two Echo speakers in certain new homes and provide visits by Amazon technicians. Amazon’s former director of Alexa Smart Home, Charlie Kindel, meanwhile, joined smart home service provider Control 4 in August.
Amazon doesn’t disclose sales numbers for the Echo, but has previously said “tens of millions” of Alexa-enabled devices sold worldwide. And in its most recent earnings report, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos hinted at his ambition for making Alexa more widely used.
“We want customers to be able to use Alexa wherever they are,” Bezos said in a statement in July. “There are now tens of thousands of developers across more than 150 countries building new devices using the Alexa Voice Service, and the number of Alexa-enabled devices has more than tripled in the past year.”