Surprise, Inc Event Reveals New Echo and More, Inc (NASDAQ:AMZN) has had a very busy 24 hours. Yesterday, the company was feuding with Alphabet, Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOGL) after Google shut down YouTube access on the Echo Show smart speaker.

Surprise, Inc Event Reveals New Echo and More

Source: Amazon

Today, Amazon held a surprise event at its Seattle headquarters, where new hardware was unveiled. The star of the show was a new flagship Amazon Echo smart speaker, but there was a lot more Alexa-powered goodness.

Today, Amazon held a surprise event at its Seattle headquarters, where new hardware was unveiled. The star of the show was a new flagship Amazon Echo smart speaker, but there was a lot more Alexa-powered goodness.

AMZN stock got a small bump today as word spread of the big event.

New Amazon Echo

Amazon released the Echo smart speaker in 2014. And while it’s since expanded the lineup of Alexa-powered smart speakers, the flagship model has remained the same. The original Echo’s design is showing its age.

The new Amazon Echo is a shorter cylinder and cloth covered, instead of tall and plastic. That cloth cover can be replaced a la Google Home, with six options to choose from including natural wood veneer. It gets improved sound with support for Dolby audio and a boosted low end thanks to a dedicated bass driver. A next-generation far-field microphone should improve Alexa voice interactions. It also gains multi-room audio capability, allowing the Amazon Echo to compete for the first time against systems like Sonos.

The New Amazon Echo will be priced at $99 –considerably less than the original’s $179 introductory price and $50 less than Google Home. Amazon will also knock $50 off the total if you buy three. It’s available for pre-order today.

Want to play trivia games with your new Echo? Amazon is also selling two-packs of Echo Button wireless pushbutton controllers for $19.

Echo Plus

The look of the original Echo lives on in the new Echo Plus. Yes, it’s a smart speaker, but the big win here is that it’s also a hub for easily setting up smart devices including lights and locks. Just tell Alexa to discover devices and they’ll connect. Amazon says over 100 devices are supported at launch and one Philips Hue smart light bulb is included. Echo Plus will cost $149.

Amazon Connect

If you’d like to replace your telephone with an Echo for free phone calls, but don’t want a smart speaker, Amazon has you covered. The Amazon Connect is a $35 device that does just one thing –make those free voice calls (including support for 911). It also goes on sale today.

Echo Spot

Amazon decided to combine the Echo Show with the Echo Dot and came up with the new Echo Spot. A 2-inch, round display dominates the spherical Echo Spot, which can show videos, display a clock face and make voice calls. Costing $130, it arrives in December.

New Fire TV

With Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) finally adopting Ultra HD resolution with its new Apple TV 4K and Google continuing to sell boatloads of Chromecasts; it’s Amazon’s turn to update its video streamers. The new Fire TV includes an Alexa voice remote, 4K and HDR support and Dolby Atmos for $69. The new Fire TV is available for pre-order today.

Alexa-Powered Security Camera and Alexa Smart Glasses?

Long-shot rumors for today’s event included an Alexa-powered security camera –perfect for taking on Alphabet’s Nest Secure camera– and smart glasses with bone conduction technology and Alexa onboard.

Neither of those products were revealed. That doesn’t mean they aren’t under development, but they weren’t ready for prime time (no pun intended) today.

Preparing for Christmas Smart Speaker Wars

During the 2016 holiday shopping season, Alexa-powered Amazon Echo speakers were’s best-selling devices. The company continues to hold a commanding lead in the rapidly growing smart speaker market, but second place Google Home is gaining ground. Google is expected to keep up the pressure by introducing new, less expensive smart speakers at its October Pixel event. And to make things really interesting this holiday season, Apple enters the smart speaker market on December 1 with its premium, Siri-powered HomePod smart speaker.

Yesterday’s spat with Google over YouTube on the Echo Show may turn out to be the opening salvo in what is shaping up to be a Battle Royale for consumer dollars as they snap up smart speakers as gifts. Amazon’s response today shows the company is serious about staying on top. Keep an eye on AMZN stock.

When the original Echo was announced on November 6, 2014, there was almost no market reaction (few anticipated the impact smart speakers would have), but times are very different today.

As of this writing, Brad Moon did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.

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