Amazon is planning a refresh of its current Echo speaker coming with better sound quality and is said to be releasing the new version of that device sometime in 2020. According to "people familiar with the matter" the new Echo is going to be released "by" 2020 if everything goes according to Amazon's plan, which means you may see the new device at the very end of this year or in the very beginning of next year.
The new Echo is going to come with a slightly wider design to make room for more audio hardware, which is said to include an additional four tweeters at a minimum. That leaves the possibility open that Amazon could pack more than four tweeters into the new speaker. This move to add more audio components into the unit would be a an attempt to edge out competing products from rival companies which boast higher quality sound than Amazon's 2nd generation Echo.
Though Amazon may want to provide consumers with a better sounding speaker to provide a more premium audio experience there is still a chance that the company could decide not to release it. Amazon's Lab126 is reportedly handling the task of development and is said to already have prototypes designed.
Those prototypes currently have the wider design when compared to the current generation echo which is where the belief that the company could release the speaker with this wider design. If the company hopes to pack more components in there it will likely have to incorporate more space, as it probably would have incorporated more tweeters into the design of the current speaker if room allowed for it.
In addition to a higher quality speaker with better audio Amazon is also said to be planning a release of a new version of its music streaming service that would offer high-fidelity music tracks to pair up with the new speaker that comes with better quality sound components. This could work well for Amazon, but it wouldn't be the first time high-fidelity music service available to consumers.
TIDAL is one such service which aimed to tackle the offering of higher fidelity tracks and music streaming, and while higher quality streaming music certainly has a niche consumer base it still doesn't have nearly the amount of subscribers that Spotify, Play Music, or Apple Music have, so it's a wonder if Amazon will be able to pull off such a service in a more successful way.
Releasing a new version of the Echo that is designed to take advantage of the better audio could help the company do just that, and Amazon could possibly make the service a part of its Prime subscription, which means people wouldn't have to actually spend any extra money on using it, they would simply need a speaker that was capable of meeting the hardware requirements to output the higher quality sound.
As of right now there is no mention of whether or not the new version of the Echo would come with a completely different material for the use on the outside. The first generation Echo was made completely of plastic with a hard exterior surface, while the second generation Echo came to market with a soft fabric for the exterior to make it more stylish. Amazon could choose to do the same thing again with this new version of the speaker.