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Amazon virtually kills efforts to develop Alexa Skills, disappointing dozens

๐ŸŒˆ Abstract

The article discusses the challenges faced by Amazon's Alexa voice assistant, particularly in terms of the lack of interest and engagement from third-party developers in building Alexa Skills. It highlights how Alexa has not lived up to Amazon's initial expectations, with the most popular Alexa Skills being basic tasks like checking the weather, rather than more advanced capabilities.

๐Ÿ™‹ Q&A

[01] Alexa's Ecosystem and Third-Party Developers

1. What were Amazon's initial plans for Alexa and the Alexa Skills ecosystem?

  • Amazon envisioned tens of thousands of software developers building valued abilities for Alexa that would grow the voice assistant's popularity and help Amazon make money.
  • Amazon launched a rewards program to encourage developers to build Alexa Skills.

2. What is the current state of the Alexa Skills ecosystem?

  • Alexa's most preferred abilities are the basic ones, like checking the weather.
  • Amazon is ending the monthly Amazon Web Services credits that have made it free for third-party developers to build and host Alexa Skills.
  • Amazon's Alexa Developer Rewards program is also ending, disincentivizing third-party developers from building for Alexa.

3. How have third-party developers reacted to these changes?

  • Dozens of Alexa Skills developers are wondering if they have a future with Alexa, especially as Amazon prepares a generative AI and subscription-based version of Alexa.
  • Many developers are now going to need to make tough decisions about maintaining existing or creating future experiences on Alexa.

[02] Monetization and Popularity of Alexa Skills

1. How successful have third-party Alexa Skills been in terms of monetization?

  • For years, people have wondered when the "killer app" would come to catapult Alexa's popularity, but this has not materialized.
  • Third-party developers found it hard to make money off Skills, with a rare few pointing to making thousands of dollars at most and the vast majority not making anything.

2. How have Amazon's incentives and payments to developers evolved over time?

  • In 2018, Amazon had paid developers millions to grow Alexa Skills.
  • By 2020, Amazon reduced the amount of money it paid out to third-party developers, as the apps made by paid developers weren't making the company much money.

3. What is the current perception of Alexa Skills?

  • The top Alexa skills are basic tasks like trivia games, rather than more advanced technological feats.
  • Some have criticized Alexa Skills as "useless", with the voice assistant's only hope being in generative AI, which also faces its own obstacles.
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