Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, had the idea for Alexa over a decade ago. He envisioned it as a new computing platform that could be controlled by speech and perform various activities. The voice assistants, once touted as the “next big thing,” have failed to live up to the expectations of companies such as Amazon, Google, Apple, and Microsoft. Many people are beginning to question the usefulness of voice assistants as attention shifts toward generative artificial intelligence as the “next big thing.”
A former executive in charge of marketing for Amazon Alexa described a culture of “grow, grow, grow,” which has since given way to a greater concentration on how the gadget can assist Amazon in increasing its profits. Because of this shift in priorities, members of the Alexa team at Amazon have been let go. Under the leadership of its newly appointed CEO, Andy Jassy, Amazon is investigating the product’s direct impact on the company’s bottom line. In response to increased pressure to enhance earnings amid a global technological industry slowdown, the e-commerce giant has eliminated 18,000 jobs throughout the firm.
The Chief Executive Officer of Microsoft, Satya Nadella, who stated in 2016 that “bots are the new apps,” now recognizes that voice assistants, such as Microsoft’s own Cortana, could not live up to the hype that was surrounding them. According to what Nadella said in an interview with the Financial Times, “they were all stupid as a rock,” and “we had a product that was meant to be the new front-end to a lot of [information] that didn’t work.”
However, due to Microsoft’s recent addition of the artificial intelligence chatbot ChatGPT to its Bing search engine, the business is currently considered the industry leader in this particular sector. According to Adam Cheyer, who helped create Siri along with Craig Federighi, the ability to exist voice assistants to follow complex instructions was made to look ridiculous in comparison by ChatGPT.
The efforts to promote more capability by having Alexa blurt forth “did you know” information at often inconvenient periods have only served to upset consumers. This is because Alexa often says the info at the wrong time. Alexa is seen as nothing more than a “glorified clock radio” by many of its users.
Amazon asserts that it is dedicated to Alexa and is “as bullish as ever” about the platform’s future. Alexa can be seen as an incredible success for Amazon based on several different metrics. It is the undisputed market leader in the United States, with an estimated 66% industry share. According to Insider Intelligence, eight years after its initial debut at the beginning of 2014, the name “Alexa” will now evoke an automated response in the homes of approximately twenty percent of the population in the United States. According to Amazon, more than 140,000 products have been made by third-party manufacturers compatible with Alexa. Also, the operating system of Alexa manages more than 300 million smart devices, such as lightbulbs or cameras. IDC, a research organization, hypothesizes that more than half of users of Alexa devices engage with the device daily, which is a higher hit rate than Apple Siri and Google Assistant.
According to two people familiar with Alexa’s approach, the direct value of those interactions to Amazon appears minimal. There have been internal arguments on assessing or crediting Alexa’s impact on spending on Amazon.com.
Most of Alexa’s skills are provided free of charge, and developers claim monetization is nearly impossible. Also, “discovery,” which refers to the process by which users locate new apps to test out, is difficult. Alexa now supports third-party developers’ applications, which Amazon calls “Skills.” In November, Amazon announced that its online marketplace had more than 130,000 different skills available for purchase. Google made a similar modification to its assistant, which the company refers to as “conversational actions.”
Brian Tarbox, who works at Wabi Sabi Software, responsible for the development of Alexa Skills, “I think there’s still a ton of people who don’t even know what a ‘Skill’ is.” “I don’t know that they’ve done a fantastic job in saying: ‘Oh, here are all of these other things that Alexa can do,'” the speaker said.