About 18 months ago, Amazon told developers that they were opening up their Amazon Alexa voice assistant to everyone, allowing them to develop Alexa Skills for various purposes.

Soon after they opened up the floodgates with Alexa Skills Kit (ASK), they reached a milestone of 5,000 Alexa Skills. This week, Amazon announced that there were officially 10,000 skills from creators of Alexa-driven products like smart appliances, smartphones, connected cars and so on.

That’s quite an achievement considering they were at 7,000 about a month ago.

To be clear, Amazon Alexa is not all AI. Not like Google Assistance in the real sense of the term artificial intelligence.

Essentially, Alexa skills are a set of instructions to be followed when certain pre-defined voice commands are spoken by the user. There is, undoubtedly, a measure of machine learning, speech recognition and other AI elements involved in the process.

However, there are significant foundational differences in the way Amazon and Google receive, process and act on a human voice command.

Amazon Alexa merely treats them as such, and delivers as many skills as possible through its crowd-coding efforts – and in a marketplace, no less. Google, on the other hand, has a greater bent towards semantics, pronunciation, intent and hundreds of other elements that have been part of its web and voice search repertoire for years.

But it appears that everyone and their brother-in-law is ignoring the fact that these 10,000 skills are merely voice commands, not innate abilities of Amazon Alexa to understand and react to a situation. That’s Alexa’s limitation at this point. It’s not so much a flaw as a tangential (and lucratively commercial?) deviation from traditional AI concepts.

We believe Alexa will travel much further than Google Assistant, and it’s not because of its superior capabilities or any such mundane reason.The sheer number of upcoming Amazon Alexa integrations are a validation of its success thus far. Besides, it is possibly the first voice assistant in the world to actually start making money for its owner!

Amazon Alexa is going to go far, and the biggest contributing factor will not be a dazzling display of AI compute dexterity, but a more-than-subtle exhibition of hitting the nail again and again until you drive home your point!

What do you think? Comment and share your thoughts.

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  1. Have had the Echo since it launched and received the Google Home this past Christmas.

    They are totally different devices and find surprising they are compared. The Google Home you just talk and say things anyway you want. The Echo uses commands that you memorize. So to replay a song it can be “replay” “again” “start it over” “one more time” and pretty much anyway you can think of saying it.

    It is like this for everything. So said “hey google is billy related to george”. Google figures it out that it is Billy Bush and George Bush 1 and 2. Songs are the same.


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