Really Amazon? $10 A Month Just To Ask Alexa?

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Amazon wants to graduate Alexa's basic digital assistant skills into a more capable and intelligent conversational generative AI. However, according to Amazon's CEO, the upgrade will be stuck behind a paywall, possibly ranging from $5 to $10. While details haven't been set in stone (apart from the announcement), it looks like the new Alexa will be a separate package from Amazon Prime and that older Alexa devices may not be supported. 

Despite selling more than half a billion Alexa-capable devices thus far, interest in the digital assistant has decreased. This is due in part to digital assistant fatigue (similarly affecting Google Assistant and Apple Siri users) and a severe lack of development for new headlining features as well as for third-party services. The latter was compounded by Amazon's recent announcement to cease giving out monthly Amazon Web Services credits that have made it free for third-party developers to build/host Alexa Skills.


Considering the decline in popularity and use, along with Alexa being nearly 10 years-old now, Amazon has decided to join the AI bandwagon with something called Project "Banyan." When completed, the new voice assistant will be dubbed "Remarkable Alexa". Uhm, okay.

According to sources close to the project, Amazon is targeting an August rollout for the new Alexa. Amazon's CEO Andy Jassy has himself stated in an April shareholder message that the revitalized Alexa will be "more intelligent and capable." What that means is still unknown, however. An Amazon spokesperson told Reuters, "We have already integrated generative Al into different components of Alexa, and are working hard on implementation at scale-in the over half a billion ambient, Alexa-enabled devices already in homes around the world-to enable even more proactive, personal, and trusted assistance for our customers.”

Now, it must be said that the $5 to $10 pricing hasn't been finalized. Like any rumor, the sources also cautioned that pricing and launch dates could change at any time. However, with big players like Google, Samsung, Microsoft, and Apple already ahead in adapting their own take on what AI-powered chatbot assistants should be like, Amazon is eager to present something equally significant to its Alexa product line, users, and shareholders. 

The challenge will be how the Seattle-based company intends on convincing customers on paying to use (ahem) Remarkable Alexa versus something that's been free all this time. Either way, we'll find out soon enough