Following in the footsteps of Microsoft and their Cortana product, Amazon is making Alexa available to third-party developers and hardware makers to voice-enable their connected products.  Another thing that is being brought to developers is Alexa’s several thousand “skills” (voice apps).

A few weeks ago, there was an announcement made for Cortana’s developer strategy, and there, we saw the arrival of a Cortana-powered Harman Kardon stand-alone speaker, which will be made available later this year.  But now, Lenovo is introducing an Eco-like voice-enabled home speaker at CES (the Consumer Electronics Show).  The audio will be provided by Harman Kardon in a premium version of the device.  They will be available in May.

Price-wise, the Lenovo speaker will be cheaper than the Amazon Echo, which will sell for $129.  The version made by Harman Kardon will sell for $50 more and comes in all black.  This seems to be a higher-fidelity version of the Echo, but with the same brain.

The significant thing isn’t the Lenovo speaker, but the fact that third parties are beginning to add capabilities to their connected devices.  This means that there will be smart-home “appliances” tat will be controlled by voice or be capable of accessing content from Cortana or Alexa.

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