Enlarge / The new $100 Amazon Echo. (credit: Valentina Palladino)
It has been a while coming. Amazon launched its Alexa virtual assistant and smart device platform in Canada today. In tandem with Alexa, Amazon is now shipping three devices there—the Echo Dot, the Echo, and the Echo Plus.
Amazon expects 10,000 skills to be available to Canadian users this year, “including skills from Air Canada, TD Bank, TELUS, CBC, The Weather Network, Bank of Montreal, Manulife, Aviva, Yellow Pages, and more.” Amazon Prime Music has launched for Canadian users as well. It will compete with Spotify and Apple Music in the Canadian market with one million songs—and yes, that includes songs by The Tragically Hip.
The rollout is part of a wave of expansion to new countries; Japan just got a similar rollout last week. With a platform like Alexa, localization is both critical and complex. Even between the United States and Canada, there are linguistic differences that could trip up Alexa’s functionality if not accounted for. To address that, Amazon has implemented local knowledge and local skills put together by Canadian developers.
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