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San Francisco (CNN Business) - When Amazon first introduced its virtual assistant in 2014, it was hard to imagine that, several years later, you would have to be careful when pronouncing the name “Alexa”.
Amazon wants to maintain a dominant 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 a market leader. It is likely that these include a wide range of Alexa infused products for different places in the home and at different prices, as well as updates of the Alexa features.
In the past five years, the smart speaker market that uses virtual assistants, Amazon's Alexa and its Echo smart speakers in particular, has skyrocketed. According to data from technology market researcher Canalys, companies such as Amazon, Google and Baidu sent 26.1 million smart speakers in the second quarter of this year. Amazon is at the top of this market: Canalys reports that Amazon sent a quarter of these speakers, or an estimated 6.6 million between April and June. (China's Baidu ranked a distant second with approximately 17% of the market, with 4.5 million speakers).
- Amazon wanted to hire 30,000 workers. More than 200,000 were nominated
Amazon has been working to maintain its momentum: last September, Amazon introduced Alexa-controlled products that ranged from expected (more Echo smart speakers) to surprising ones (a $ 60 AmazonBasics microwave that can heat food using voice commands, like "Alexa, heat a cup of coffee", when used with an Echo device).
This year, analysts anticipate products that stop the house and, perhaps, even your body.
"I think that Amazon basically wants to be in every room of the house," Carolina Milanesi, a consumer technology analyst at Creative Strategies, told CNN Business before the company's announcements.
Milanesi is aware of the products that use Alexa that focus more on smart home automation to attract new customers and give existing reasons to upgrade. This could come in the form of low-cost Alexa speakers for parts of the house where people don't spend much time but still want to be able to access a virtual assistant, such as in the garage or on a flight of stairs.
Amazon could also present its own high-end Echo speaker, with a similar price, to compete with some of the companies that already offer Alexa-compatible premium speakers, such as Sonos.
"Obviously they have partners that play in that space, so it will be interesting to see what they do for quality versus price," Milanesi said.
- Amazon employs thousands of people to listen to what you say to Alexa, according to reports
Alexa for your ears?
Amazon can also show new ways to use the virtual assistant outside the home. Amazon presented an Echo Auto product at its event last September, but the device, currently priced at $ 25, is available by invitation only.
One way the company could also expand Alexa's horizons is through a pair of Alexa-enabled wireless headphones, which Amazon reportedly plans to launch, perhaps with activity tracking and priced at less than 100 Dollars. It would be a first time for Amazon, but brands that include Jabra and Bose already sell wireless headphones and earphones, respectively, that can summon attendees, including Alexa.
An Amazon spokesman said the company does not comment on rumors or speculation.
The headphones that use Alexa would mark a movement towards a notoriously complicated market. Numerous companies have tried to popularize portable devices in the ear that can track activity or access a virtual assistant, with limited success (Apple AirPods, which can do the latter, is one of the most prominent).
But Milanesi thinks it would only be a worthy investment for Amazon if it really helped you use Alexa in the real world.
"It just seems like a great company unless it's something like Alexa help you with voice training or something," he said.