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Amazon is preparing to launch a set of headphones during the second half of the year that would rival Apple's AirPods, Bloomberg reported on Thursday. The report echoes comments made in December by TF International Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, best known for his accurate Apple predictions.
Amazon has been pushing more aggressively into the hardware business, especially with products that have Alexa built in. It announced 15 new Alexa-enabled products in September of last year, including a microwave that was a proof-of-concept of the types of products its partners can build with Alexa.
Amazon's headphones will reportedly allow people to talk to Alexa, the company's smart voice assistant. Apple's AirPods let users speak with Siri and request anything from songs to the weather. The latest version of AirPods, released last month, makes this easier by letting people say "Hey Siri" instead of tapping the side of the AirPods. Other products, such as Samsung's new Galaxy Buds, let wearers speak with Google Assistant. Also, Bose already sells one model of headphones with Alexa built in, the QC 35 II.
Access to Alexa could be more appealing for people than access to Siri, since Alexa can be used to order goods from Amazon and provide updates on when they will arrive, for example. Also, Amazon's ecosystem is more open than Apple's, which means people can use Alexa to listen to a variety of music services, including Pandora, Spotify, Apple Music and Amazon Music.
Bloomberg reported that Amazon's version of AirPods are expected to look similar to Apple's headphones and can be charged in a case.
Amazon was not immediately available to comment.