Amazon is kicking off a new “joint-development, certification, and merchandising partnership program” with 3rd-party manufacturers to create certified accessories for Amazon devices that carry “Made for Amazon” branding. A job listing from earlier this year, which has since been removed from Amazon’s own employment website, for a senior product manager to head the program has presumably been filled and the first crop of certified products have begun appearing on the retailer’s website. These new “Made for Amazon” products include accessories for various Amazon Echo, Fire Tablet, and Fire TV devices in Amazon’s hardware line up. They range from relatively simple accessories, like a silicone case for the Fire TV’s new Alexa voice remote, to more complex accessories that use undocumented aspects of Amazon’s hardware, such as a battery base for the Echo Plus that powers the speaker through a hidden port and attaches via an unused screw terminal.
Over three years ago, just before the 2nd-generation Fire TV was released with its newly added microSD card slot, a microSD card from SanDisk with “Made for Amazon” branding was released. This is the first instance of a certified accessory for Amazon’s hardware that I’m aware of, but nothing else has been released since. That is, until the new group of “Made for Amazon” accessories started being released in the last few months.
All accessories in the new program use the same logo “Made for Amazon” logo in the bottom left of their primary product image to indicate their special status. The first item on each product’s bulleted list of features also always describes that the product is a “certified” device that is “Made for Amazon.” It’s presumed that the products have, in some way, been vetted and approved by Amazon to carry this special branding. Every product in the “Made for Amazon” program isn’t necessarily made specifically for Amazon’s devices. This Echo Dot Shelf that mounts around a power outlet, for example, appears to be identical to another shelf that the manufacturer sells for Google’s competing Home Mini smart speaker.
Accessory manufacturer Mission Cables has released several “Made for Amazon” silicone cases for the Amazon Echo Dot 3, Echo Spot, and the Fire TV’s new Alexa voice remote. Interestingly, the product page of the Alexa voice remote case says the accessory was first listed on Amazon on October 12th, while the remote itself was not released until October 31st. Similarly, a pair of “Made for Amazon” speakers by iHome are made to house the Echo Input, which will not be released until December 12th. The release of these accessories prior to the release of the Amazon devices that they’re made for indicates that companies participating in the “Made for Amazon” program are receiving early access to unreleased Amazon devices.
Among the more involved accessories in the program are the Amazon Echo battery base by Ninety7 and the Echo Plus battery base by Mission Cables. Both accessories provide power to Amazon’s smart speakers through proprietary ports that are hidden under the speaker. The Echo Plus battery base attaches to the speaker using a screw terminal that otherwise has no use. These unique ways of how the accessories interface with Amazon’s hardware seems to indicate that Amazon designed their smart speakers with 3rd-party accessories in mind. Amazon does not make any products themselves that utilize the hidden port or screw terminal.