Amazon’s recent launch of a new range of Echo-enabled devices looks set to shake up Black Friday this year. The etail giant recently announced 14 new Echo enabled products, just in time for Cyber 5. Some of these products are variations of existing Echo devices such as the Echo Dot with Clock and the Echo Show 8, an 8” version of the Echo Show 5 (5”).
The Echo Show 8 appears to be a direct response to Google’s Nest Hub which has a 7” screen. This is consistent with previous Black Fridays and Prime Days where Google and Amazon Smart Home devices go head-to-head. Google traditionally partner with Amazon’s rivals such as Walmart, Target and Best Buy to prominently promote its Nest Home devices. However, despite this, Amazon has reported record sales on its devices both on Prime Day 2019 and Black Friday 2018.
Google this year however have fired a different shot at Amazon, just a month before Black Friday. It has teamed up with Spotify in the US to offer Spotify Premium users a free Google Home Mini, not to be confused with the new Google Nest Mini. This offer had previously been available to subscribers of the Spotify Family plan.
This was a clear attempt by Google to gain a greater foothold in the Smart Speakers market, but it took Amazon just two days to respond. It announced that any Prime member that signed up to an Amazon Music Unlimited subscription, $7.99 a month, could purchase a third-gen Echo Dot for just $0.99. This deal was also available to non-Prime members, but they would have to pay the non-Prime price for the subscription, $9.99 a month. Unlike Google, this deal was also available in the UK.
Amazon: A “Budding” New Challenger
Google and Amazon are set to battle it out again this Black Friday, however a recent Amazon release may mean it is fighting on two fronts. Amazon’s new Wireless Earbuds, the Echo Buds, will put it in direct competition with Apple’s AirPods, as well similar Earbuds from Beats By Dre, Samsung and Sony.
Apple products have increasingly become a battleground between retailers. Over the last two years there have been a growing number of deals on iPads, Macbooks and Apple Watches on Black Friday and Prime Day, where previously there had been very little.
We analyzed some of these deals on Prime Day 2019, the most prominent across major US retailers, including Amazon, were on iPads. These were promoted as “Off to College” deals for students and ultimately led to the back to college shopping season arriving earlier than ever before.
This year Amazon will not only have to compete against rival retailers on Apple products but with Apple directly in Wireless Earbuds. Apple have doubled down, just in time for Black Friday, with the release of AirPods Pro. This new model improves upon the standard AirPods by having noise-cancellation technology and being water-resistant.
One of the biggest factors a shopper will consider when picking between Wireless Earbuds will be the compatibility of the voice assistants. Echo Buds can be used with Apple devices and Apple Airpods with non-Apple devices, however the voice assistants, Alexa and Siri, will not work with rivals products.
Price will of course be an important factor. The standard AirPods are only $15 more than the Echo Buds but do not have noise-cancellation technology and aren’t water-resistant. Both the Echo Buds and AirPods Pro do have these capabilities but the AirPods Pro cost almost twice as much. Amazon’s biggest rival therefore might be Samsung with its Galaxy Buds. The Galaxy Buds do not have noise noise-cancellation technology but are $10 cheaper than the Echo Buds. Amazon may feel the need to undercut Samsung on Black Friday to ensure a successful start for its Echo Buds
A Fresh Approach to Black Friday
This year may also be the year that Amazon really pushes AmazonFresh, following the announcement it is cutting the $14.99 a month fee for Prime members. The announcement came just a month before Black Friday, meaning shoppers with a standard Prime membership can get AmazonFresh products delivered for free in a two-hour window in over 2,000 markets.
There are some restrictions. To qualify, a shopper must spend a minimum of $50 in New York City, $35 elsewhere. Initially the service will also only be available to those that have used AmazonFresh before with other Prime members having to request an invitation.
Free two-hour delivery had been available on Whole Foods products through the Prime Now app. Amazon announced it would also be extended this with Whole Foods items also available through the Amazon website and app.
This bold move by Amazon is clearly a reaction to expansion of its rivals. Kroger launched its own delivery service last year, Kroger Ship, last year and Walmart have been very vocal about its expansion of its online Grocery pickup service that will reach 69% of American households by the end of year.
With the convenient timing of this Amazon announcement, we can expect a greater focus on AmazonFresh and Whole Foods this Black Friday and Cyber 5 weekend.
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