Amazon Echo Globally

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Amazon has released its Echo smart speakers in Japan, continuing its expansion of the family of devices beyond the US and Europe, reports TechCrunch.

The company will also make the Alexa voice assistant available in the country in Japanese and will open up the Alexa platform to allow Skills, or voice-based apps for the platform, to be developed in the language.

Moving into Japan will bring Alexa availability up to six countries total, with three languages. Last month, Amazon announced the Echo was coming to India, but it didn’t add support for local languages, instead allowing users in the country to speak to the device in English like they can in the US and UK.

The company did update Alexa’s voice recognition software to better account for local accents and the particular nuances of Indian English. With Japan, though, the company has introduced full support for Japanese language input as well as Skills, allowing Japanese consumers to fully engage with the devices. Amazon’s entry into the Japanese smart speaker market follows the launch of Line’s Clova Wave and Google’s Home in the country, both also sporting native language support.

As smart speakers grow more popular around the world, global companies like Google and Amazon are going up against local competitors. The latter group is able to create devices with a more controlled user experience, dedicating all of their resources to supporting a voice assistant conversant in a single language.

A company like Amazon, on the other hand, has to spread out its resources, forming teams to develop natural language processing for multiple locales. The user experience and naturalness of interacting with Read More Here