Amazon has apparently — and quietly — silenced its Amazon Tap smart speaker.
The portable Alexa device is not being offered for sale on Amazon’s website, with a bold yellow banner across its listing in the Echo and Alexa Devices section stating that, “This device is no longer available.” Best Buy, another reseller of Amazon devices, says on its site that, “This item is no longer available.” Even Amazon’s own refurbished devices pages lists a “Certified Refurbished Amazon Tap” as being, “Currently unavailable. We don’t know when or if this item will be back in stock.”
The only major retailer that seems to currently be selling the Amazon Tap is Staples, which indicates on its website that, “This item is not available in stores” but can be purchased online for the regular price of $130.
When contacted by GeekWire, an Amazon spokesperson said that, “Customer response to the Amazon Tap has been incredibly positive and we’ve sold out,” instead suggesting buyers consider other, newer devices such as the latest-generation Echo Dot or Echo Input. But there was no indication as to whether the Amazon Tap is sold out temporarily, or sold out for good — though the banner on the Amazon Tap page would imply the latter.
If the Tap is indeed tapped out, it would mark what appears to be the first time Amazon has completely sunset one of its smart speaker lines, versus just upgrading or expanding the line with newer models as has happened with the original Echo and Echo Dot.
At the time of its launch in 2016, the Amazon Tap was a groundbreaking smart speaker. Like the original Amazon Echo, it had Alexa built in, both WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity, and decent sound for streaming music or other audio. Uniquely, it was designed to be portable: the Tap had a rechargeable internal battery and rested on a charging base when not in use. Amazon also sold a variety of colorful rubberized “slings” for carrying the Tap from place to place.
But the Tap was limited, too. At its launch, it did not support hands-free operation: owners had to press a button with a microphone icon to give the Tap commands. That limitation was later lifted and button-press operation made optional in a software upgrade. The Tap also did not have a lighted ring around its top, a standard feature of other Echo-family devices, instead using a line of five small LED lights.
In recent months, feature updates to Amazon’s Alexa devices have notably excluded the Tap. The launch of Alexa Announcements in April specifically did not include the Tap. Other Echo feature rollouts, such as multi-room music last year, simply have not mentioned the Amazon Tap, and settings for some features within the Amazon Alexa app do not show the Tap as a supported device.
Rumors of the Tap’s potential demise have circulated for more than a year, since around the time of last August’s introduction of the multi-room music feature for other Alexa devices. Speculation heated up again online three months ago. “The device seems to have been quietly put on the road to market obsolescence, despite the fact that Amazon has claimed that portability was the number one customer request,” wrote one Reddit contributor. “I take my Tap all over, including the backyard for gardening and, as a bluetooth speaker, on my bicycle or the beach.”
Earlier reports from market research firms that track smart speaker sales have shown the Tap as having a far smaller installed base than its original Echo or Echo Dot siblings.
GeekWire has again reached out to Amazon to further comment on the current status of the Tap and what the apparent cessation of Amazon Tap production means for people who own one. It would mark the end of the line for what our hands-on review called a device that, “for flexibility, portability, and functionality … strikes a nice balance.”