Amazon’s virtual assistant has done pretty well for itself. Amazon’s Echo Speaker has sold out twice this year now and it features Alexa. The voice assistant has evolved to hone and develop over a thousand skills since its release. This has led it to become one of the four major chunks of Amazon’s business, the other three being the marketplace, the AWS and Amazon Prime.
Alexa uses the Echo speaker as well as the Fire TV to receive commands and with an array of developers customizing the commands to their needs, it’s sure to become a favourite around the suburbs. Some of the things it can already do include order pizza, call an Uber, answer questions, buy stuff online, control the thermostat, check credit card balances and even control the lights.
Amazon’s director for Alexa, Rob Pulciani, said that since the Alexa Skills Kit was released less than a year ago, the community of developers has grown to the tens of thousands. Due to the open platform, developers can hook up third-party devices to Alexa too. And the growth shows especially if you consider that Alexa’s skills number 135 in January.
One aspect of Alexa that is less than spectacular is the app store. The search function leaves a lot to be desired and there are no categories or even top 10 lists as you find in other app stores.
Amazon’s venture into the tablet and smartphone business hasn’t been terribly successful so it’s refreshing to see them winning in a category that isn’t exactly on everyone’s minds today. I mean sure, Cortana, Siri and Google Now are common knowledge but Amazon’s Alexa isn’t really part of the club and yet it looks like it might be attracting the most attention.
The Echo ships next in June this year and costs $180.