FactorDaily reports that Amazon is preparing to set up an outpost of Lab126, its R&D company that conceptualized gadgets like the Kindle ebook reader, Echo smart speaker, Dash buttons, and Fire tablets and streaming devices.
When it launches in the Indian financial capital of Mumbai, it’ll be the first Lab126 center outside of the US – it’s already present in six cities there with more than 3,000 employees. The outlet’s sources didn’t specify a timeline, but they did mention that Amazon is already hiring people for this facility.
It’ll be interesting to see what it comes up with; there’s a chance that the Mumbai outfit will simply house developers who will engineer ideas that are concocted in the US, but it could also see new innovations targeted to consumers in India.
Amazon is already doing brisk business in the Indian online retail space, which is slated to grow to $100 billion by 2020. The company had earmarked $5 billion to invest in its local operations there back in 2014, and it’s since launched its Prime expedited delivery offering, along with its Prime Video streaming service and Fire TV Stick streaming dongle.
It’s also believed to be bringing the Echo to India next month. That could be huge, because it’ll be the first major tech company to offer an AI-powered speaker in the country. In contrast, Google hasn’t yet announced plans to bring the Assistant-powered Home speaker to India, and Apple’s HomePod won’t become available anywhere until December. Amazon’s Echo might also be complemented by the launch of its streaming music service in India next year.
It may not be enough to simply begin shipping Echo speakers in India: there’s also the matter of supporting multiple accents and a wide range of languages, if Amazon wants to get users in the country to order things by issuing voice commands. Lab126 could play a role in improving Alexa’s voice recognition capabilities for fewer errors and misheard commands.
We’ve contacted Amazon to learn more and will update this post if there’s a response.