Buenos días, Alexa. Only a few short weeks after Amazon made Alexa-powered devices and its Echo smart speaker lineup broadly available in Spain and Italy, and months after it brought them to France, the Seattle company today announced that its voice assistant is making a Mexico debut.
The Echo, Echo Dot, Echo Plus, Echo Spot, and Amazon Smart Plug are available for preorder in Mexico starting this week and will begin shipping Monday, with third-party Alexa devices from Sonos, Harman Kardon, Jabra, Bose, and others to follow later in the year. Folks holding out hope for Amazon’s Echo Show smart display are out of luck at the moment, unfortunately.
Alexa Skills Kit (ASK) and Alexa Voice Service (AVS) were announced for Mexico in August, alongside the launch of an invite-only Alexa Voice Service developer preview. (Device maker will be able to access Mexican Spanish language models in the cloud using the AVS APIs beginning November 12.) And localized skills from Noticieros Televisa, Cinépolis, Uber, El Universal, Domino’s, Expansión, Aeroméxico, Mediotiempo, Kiwilimón, Cartoon Network, Philips Hue, TP-Link, Las Estrellas, Milenio, Maratón, and “hundreds” more are available now. In the lead-up to today’s announcement, Amazon held developer workshops in Mexico City, Guadalajara, and Monterrey.
“Tens of millions of customers around the world are already using Alexa, and today we’re excited to introduce the service to our customers in Mexico,” said Amazon Alexa VP Toni Reid. “We’ve built an entirely new experience from the ground up that honors Mexican culture, enabling customers to just ask to play their favorite music, get the news and weather, control their smart home, set reminders, enjoy local skills, and more … This experience has been custom-made for Mexico, and we cannot wait to hear what our customers think.”
Today also marked the launch of Amazon Music for Mexico. As in the 40 other countries where it’s available, the streaming service comes in two tiers — Amazon Music Unlimited and Prime Music — and offers a catalog of more than 50 million songs, plus playlists and stations “curated for music listeners in Mexico.” (Two million songs and up to 40 hours of monthly playback are available for free to Prime members.) A few include “Mexicanísimo”; “Hecho en México,” which offers a mix of songs by Vicente Fernández, José Alfredo Jiménez and more; “#LoQueSuena,” a playlist updated weekly with new music trending in Mexico; and “Fuego Latino,” which highlights top songs in Latin music.
“With today’s launch in Mexico, we’re bringing our customers an incredible selection of music including hand-curated global and local content created for music lovers in Mexico,” Federico Pedersen, head of music for Mexico at Amazon, said. “Soon millions of songs will be paired with a brand-new way of listening to music through voice on Alexa, delivering a host of brand-new ways to ask for music. We can’t wait for customers to begin their listening experience with Amazon Music.”
Amazon Music Unlimited individual plans start at $5 per month or $50 per year for Prime members. Family plans, which allow up to six members of a household to share a subscription, are $7.53 or $76.08 per month or year (for Prime members), respectively. And the Single Device Plan, which tethers streaming to a single Echo speaker, is $1.97 per month.
Amazon has taken a slow but steady approach to global expansion, adding support for German and Japanese and bringing Alexa and Echo devices to the U.K. and Germany in 2016, Japan in November, and France this summer. The company rolled out Alexa and Echo in India, Australia, and Canada after adapting the virtual assistant’s brand of English to suit local markets. And it added 80 additional regions — including a number of Latin American markets, such as Chile, Columbia, Peru, and Uruguay — in late 2017.
But on that front, Alexa trails behind competitors like the Google Assistant, which Google claims will support more than 30 languages by the end of 2018. Apple’s Siri speaks dozens of languages, and Microsoft’s Cortana is available in more than seven.
Currently, Alexa supports English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, and Spanish.
In an effort to improve Alexa’s linguistic capabilities, Amazon this year released Cleo, a gamified skill that rewards users for repeating phrases in local languages and dialects. According to the Alexa Skills Store listing, this has helped improve the voice assistant’s understanding of languages like French, Hindi, and Mandarin Chinese.
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