Amazon plans to charge Alexa in June, unless internal strife delays its renewal

Zoom in / Amazon showed off Alexa's future generative AI capabilities in September.

“If this fails to generate revenue, Alexa is in trouble.”

Quote from an anonymous Amazon employee on Wednesday Interested in trade The report paints a bleak picture. Amazon needs its next subscription version of Alexa to drive revenue in ways it's never seen before in its voice assistant.

Amazon declined Ars' request for comment on the report. But the opening quote in this article could have been uttered by anyone who has been following voice assistants over the past year. All voice assistants have struggled to increase revenue since people tend to use voice assistants for basic queries, like checking the weather, rather than transactions.

Amazon announced plans to increase usage and interest in Alexa by launching an artificial intelligence version that it said will one day require a subscription.

This leads to the question: Would you pay to use Alexa? Amazon will face the challenge of convincing people to change how they use Alexa when they are suddenly paying a monthly rate to enable this unprecedented behavior.

Amazon workers seem to see this as an obstacle. “Some were questioning the whole premise of charging for Alexa,” Insider reported, citing an anonymous Amazon employee. “For example, people who already pay for an existing Amazon service, like Amazon Music, may not be willing to pay the extra money.” To access the latest version of Alexa.”

“There's tension around whether or not people will pay for Alexa,” an anonymous Amazon worker reportedly said.

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Subscription-based Alexa was originally scheduled to be released in June

Amazon has not publicly confirmed a release date for its AI Alexa product. But the Insider report, citing “internal documents and people familiar with the matter,” said Amazon plans to release its own subscription plan on June 30. However, plans for what Insider said would be called “Alexa Plus” and built on “Remarkable Alexa” technology may be delayed due to numerous development challenges.

According to the report, Remarkable Alexa's technology has been tested by 15,000 customers and currently works for conversation but “distorts answers, often providing unnecessarily long or inaccurate responses.”

In September, Amazon's senior vice president of devices and services, David Limb, demonstrated Alexa's understanding of more complex commands, including Alexa no longer asking for the “Hey Alexa” prompt and the ability to understand multiple requests to multiple apps with a single spoken phrase.

Insider reported: “The new Alexa still doesn't meet the quality standards expected for Alexa Plus, these people added, citing the technical challenges and complexity of Alexa's redesign.”

“Old restrictions”

According to the report, the people working on the original Alexa insisted on using what they had already built for the standard voice assistant with the paid version, leading to tech inflation and “internal politics.”

However, native Alexa is based on a natural language model that has multiple parts that do multiple things, compared to the massive, massive language model of generative AI Alexa.

Now, Alexa's AI-powered product is said to be moving to a new technology stack to avoid the “legacy limitations” that Alexa imposes today, but that will likely delay things.

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