When Amazon first introduced its virtual assistant in 2014, it was hard to imagine that, several years later, you’d have to be careful where you utter the name “Alexa.”
Amazon wants to keep a commanding presence in the fast-growing virtual assistant space. On Wednesday, at a press event at its Seattle headquarters, the company is expected to announce new products and services that will help it maintain its position as the market leader. These are likely to include a wide range of Alexa-infused products for different places in the home and at different prices, as well as updates to Alexa’s functions.
Over the past five years, the market for smart speakers that use virtual assistants — Amazon’s Alexa and its Echo smart speakers in particular — has ballooned. According to data from tech market researcher Canalys, companies including Amazon, Google, and Baidu shipped 26.1 million smart speakers in the second quarter of this year. Amazon is sitting on top of this market: Canalys reports Amazon shipped a quarter these speakers, or an estimated 6.6 million between April and June. (China’s Baidu took a distant second place with roughly 17% of the market, shipping 4.5 million speakers).
Amazon has been working to keep its momentum: Last September, Amazon introduced Alexa-controlled products ranging from the expected (more Echo smart speakers) to the surprising (a $60 AmazonBasics microwave that can warm food via voice commands — such as, “Alexa, heat up one cup of coffee” — when used with an Echo device).
This year, analysts anticipate products that will go in your house and, perhaps, even on your body.
“I think fundamentally Amazon wants to be in every fricking room in the house,” Carolina Milanesi, a consumer technology analyst at Creative Strategies, told CNN Business ahead of the company’s announcements.
Milanesi is keepi