After seven months, the Amazon Echo is finally available without an invitation. Customers can now purchase the smart Bluetooth speaker for $179.99, regardless of their Amazon Prime status. It will ship July 14.
The cylindrical Bluetooth speaker connects to the Internet and responds to voice commands, adding things to shopping lists, telling you the weather and playing your favorite music. GeekWire’s initial review by columnist Frank Catalano gave the speaker good marks, and the addition of new functionality has improved its value.
“The customer response to Amazon Echo has been incredibly positive, and we’ve been working hard to build more as quickly as possible,” Amazon vice president Greg Hart said in a press release.
Before today, potential Echo buyers had to wait for an invitation to buy the speaker. It cost $99 for Amazon Prime members (raised to $149 later) and $199 for everyone else.
This is also the public debut of user reviews, after a stealthy review page was revealed yesterday. Customers who had purchased the Echo were invited to review it over the weekend, resulting in a 4.5-star rating from more than 18,000 reviews. In hindsight, that was the prelude to the broader public availability of the device.
Here’s an Amazon video outlining the features of the device.