Amazon wants to upskill Alexa to stay ahead of voice rivals
Photo Credit: Reuters

Jeff Bezos-led Amazon wants to widen the gap between its smart voice assistant Alexa and rival offerings by adding more skills and encouraging developers, Business Insider reported, quoting a top company executive.

Alexa already has 30,000 skills that can be accessed on Amazon's smart speaker, Echo, and other devices.

Amazon plans to build support for more apps and skills on Alexa through a host of developers. It's goal now is to help Alexa skills developers create solid and sustainable businesses.

"What's good for developers is ultimately good for consumers," Rob Pulciani, Amazon's general manager of Alexa skills, was quoted as saying.

Amazon did not actively encourage developers to make new skills or apps for Alexa as they were not paying them until recently, when the company announced a Developer Rewards programme.

Pulciani told Business Insider that Amazon paid $100,000 to Alexa's top developer last year and rewarded others with $10,000 or more. "Our rewards are making a lot of developers very happy," Pulciani said.

While the flagship payment feature, Amazon Pay, is still being tested on Alexa, Pulciani said that the company will open it up to all developers soon.

Market share

Alexa has an early lead in the segment in terms of its capabilities, ahead of peers such as Google Home, Siri and Cortana.

"Google Home is nowhere near [the number of skills], and the others, notably [Siri], aren't anywhere in sight," Werner Goertz, an analyst at research firm Gartner, told Business Insider.

According to a report from Emarketer released in May last year, Amazon dominates the voice-controlled speaker market. It had 70.6% of all voice-enabled speaker users in the US compared to 23.8% captured by Google Home.

Another report from VoiceLabs published in January last year also ranked Alexa as the leading voice AI in terms of market share.

Survey data from Edison Research released last June found that Amazon Alexa-enabled devices had 82% market share compared to just 18% for Google Home.

Alexa will soon start controlling microwaves, smart ovens and refrigerators after the Jeff Bezos-led company said last week that it has added cooking capabilities to the smart voice assistant’s interface.

Google, Apple and Microsoft are yet to venture into the kitchen via artificial intelligence.

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