This is Amazon’s latest hardware product: The redesigned Alexa earbuds. TechCrunch covered the announcement here, where the specs and capabilities are listed. I’m sure they work fine, too, but the case design is a blatant rip-off of Apple’s AirPod Pros.
This is just lazy.
Amazon has a long history of selling and promoting lookalikes, copycats, and clones of other products. Likewise, the retailer sued third-party sellers for doing the same thing. Amazon also has been accused of investing in companies and later producing clones of the products. In 2020 CEO Jeff Bezos testified on this subject in front of a congressional hearing where he couldn’t guarantee the company would end this process. Often the products Amazon copies come from small startups without the resources to fight a giant like Amazon.
Last month California-based Peak Design took to YouTube to protest Amazon’s unabashed copy of one of Peak’s top products. As Peak points out, Amazon’s take is a cheap knockoff made from lower quality materials and without Peak Design’s ethical manufacturing. The video quickly went viral, amassing over 4.5 million hits and highlighting Amazon’s shady practices.
For the latest Echo Buds, Amazon copied a market leader instead of a small startup. To recap, Amazon, a company worth over a trillion dollars, just released a product that looks essentially identical to a top-selling product from Apple, a company worth 2 trillion dollars.
The Echo Buds are much less expensive than Apple’s $250 AirPod Pros, too. The standard Echo Buds costs $100, and the version with wireless charging runs $120. It’s important to note the wireless buds themselves do not look like AirPods. Amazon only copied the ubiquitous AirPod Pro case.
The consumer is the loser here. With more resources than many countries, Amazon can produce world-class products, yet it decided to copy a rival’s market-leading product. In the end, it’s easier (and cheaper) to follow trends than become a trendsetter.