Amazon made things a little easier for the thousands of Alexa developers to build and host Alexa skills on Amazon Web Services.
Amazon Alexa is the smart voice assistant that powers the company’s smart home devices, the Echo, Tap and Dot. Alexa is the AI backbone that allows different capabilities (Skills) to be built so that customers can interact with devices through voice commands.
Some examples of Skills are: asking Alexa to play music for you, booking your Uber ride and ordering from Domino’s Pizza. Travel website Kayak even allows you to plan your trip through Alexa, and you can also stay updated on flight arrivals and departures.
These capabilities, or as Amazon prefers to call them, Skills, are not built by Amazon. They’re built by the companies that want their users to access them on Alexa-capable devices. It was Kayak that built the function that allows you to use Alexa to make your travel plans. it was the Domino’s Pizza technology team that built the pizza-ordering function. Any company can build an application that can piggyback on Amazon Alexa to serve their customers.
Amazon says that developers use the Amazon free tier to build Alexa skills, and if they exceed the allotted resource they incur AWS charges.
What Amazon recently did was to make it completely free for developers to build Alexa Skills. They also offer $100 AWS promotional credit for developers who have already published an Alexa skill.
“There is already a large community of incredibly engaged developers building skills for Alexa,” said Steve Rabuchin, Vice President, Amazon Alexa. “Today, we’re excited to announce a new program that will free up developers to create more robust and unique skills that can take advantage of AWS services. We can’t wait to see what developers create for Alexa.”
We’ve been tracking Alexa for some time now, and we know that Alex-powered devices like Amazon Echo have been selling in the millions. During the first part of the 2016 holiday season alone, sales jumped nine-fold compared to the same period a year ago.
The device segment has so far remained a sore point for Amazon, but Echo seems to be bucking that trend as sales keep moving higher and higher.
As more and more companies start embracing Alexa as a way to reach their customers, Alexa’s value in the eyes of users will also increase. In turn, that will attract even more users to the Alexa fold. Getting the developer community and organisations to build Alexa skills is a crucial first step. By making it cost-free to build the skills, Amazon is encouraging companies and developers to build even more.
Amazon Alexa Skills now exceed 10,000. By making the development part free, it’s clear that Amazon is targeting several tens of thousands more in a short period of time.
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