Amazon's Echo nothing new, pro says

Amazon's surprise reveal of its latest product, Echo, had tech watchers debating on Friday whether the e-commerce giant hit a home run or was late to the game.

The new device, a 9-inch tall cylinder, essentially acts as a virtual assistant and high-end speaker and responds to the name Alexa.

"I think it is sort of just like we have already. We have [Apple's] Siri, we have Google Now, we have Microsoft Cortana," TechnoBuffalo's Todd Haselton said in an interview with CNBC's "Closing Bell."

"I feel like this should be a delivery mechanism into Amazon services. It sort of is but right now it just lets you save products to list that you can buy later."



Amazon Echo
Amazon | YouTube

According to Amazon's website, Echo provides music, news, weather and other information and is also an "expertly tuned speaker."

"I don't see the demand here," Haselton said.

However, Mashable's Lance Ulanoff sees this more as a "sneak attack" into the smart home game by Amazon.

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"It's in the house and one step away from saying 'I need more milk' or 'I need a new book' or 'I want to watch that movie now,' making purchases directly through it," he said.

Users must be invited to buy the product, which retails for $199 for non-Amazon Prime members or $99 for Prime members.

Haselton said the invitation-only strategy may be a way to feel out the market.

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"They are a little concerned this might be a flop and they want to see what kind of demand there is ahead of time," he said.

While Ulanoff thinks that the invitation-only purchase feels "odd," he said what Amazon is doing should not be underestimated.

"Amazon is considered one of the big movers and shakers. It always wants to be on all screens. It wants you to be able to buy things, to act instantly," he said.