Earlier this month, Amazon promised it would bring its Echo line of smart speakers to the competitive e-commerce battleground of India. The devices, including the Echo, Echo Plus, and Echo Dot, were initially available through an invite-only program. Today, Amazon says those orders are now shipping to customers, and will arrive in November.
To encourage sales, earlier Echo adopters were offered an introductory discount of 30 percent off the purchase price and one year of Prime membership.
Amazon Prime is still relatively new to India, having only launched there in 2016. Memberships cost 999 rupees ($15), though discounts for new members – as with this Echo promotion – are often available. The retailer also hosted its first-ever Prime Day there this summer, to coincide with the U.S. event.
In India, the Echo was priced at ₹9,999 ($153), the Echo Plus was ₹14,999 ($230), and the Echo Dot was sold for ₹4,499 ($69), Amazon had said when announcing its plans to expand Echo sales outside of the U.S., Germany, and the U.K. to new markets in Asia.
The move to bring Echo devices to India is the latest among several efforts by Amazon to establish a larger presence in the country, a quickly growing market for e-commerce operations. According to a report from Quartz India last month citing Morgan Stanley research, online retail in India is estimated to grow more than 1,200 percent to $200 billion by 2026, up from $15 billion in 2016.
Amazon has been increasing its investment in the region, accordingly. This July, regulatory filings indicated the retailer would inject an additional $260 million in expansions in India, ahead of the holiday shopping season, in an effort to better challenge rivals like Flipkart, valued at $11.6 billion, and Alibaba-backed Paytm.
Amazon has already been gaining market share in the region at Flipkart’s expense. Ranked by app downloads, for example, Paytm is now number one in India, followed by Amazon India, Flipkart, then Snapdeal, Morgan Stanley found.
Alexa has also gotten an upgrade for her Indian arrival. As Bloomberg reports, the virtual assistant can now speak a blend of Hindi and English with an Indian accent.
She also knows to celebrate Independence Day on August 15th, and to say “Happy Diwali and a prosperous New Year!” Beyond that, she also knows local idioms, language and other customs. For instance, she understands that the living room is called the drawing room; knows the words for jeera (cumin), haldi (turmeric) and atta (flour); can talk about cricket; fetch music from Bollywood films; tell stories from the ancient Panchatantra children’s fables; and more, the report also noted.
In addition, Alexa is arriving in the country with over 10,000 skills for customers in India to take advantage of, including several from popular Indian brands like Saavn, ESPNcricinfo, Ola, Times of India, NDTV, AajTak, Tarla Dalal, Zomato, Freshmenu, Goibibo, Housejoy, SYSKA, Silvan, Urban Clap, and Byju’s.
Amazon today also opened up the Alexa Skills Skill to developers who want to build voice apps for the region, and invited hardware developers working with Alexa Voice Services to join a developer preview program.