Alexa Will Get an Upgrade But It'll Cost You, Report Says - 3 minutes read

Amazon is reportedly releasing a generative AI version of Alexa later this year and plans to charge a monthly subscription fee separate from Amazon Prime for the technology, according to CNBC on Wednesday. It’s part of Amazon’s effort to compete with OpenAI’s ChatGPT-4 Omni and Google’s Gemini 1.5, which threaten digital assistants like Alexa.

The new version of Alexa will reportedly be more conversational and updated with the latest in generative AI capabilities, but it won’t be free. CNBC reports that Amazon has not nailed down a price for the AI Alexa yet, but that the service would likely need a monthly subscription outside of the $139 a year Amazon Prime members pay. A source told CNBC that the estimated cost of using generative AI in Alexa is 2 cents per query, and mentioned a $20 per month price point that was floated internally.

The report confirms several details about Amazon’s ambitions for Alexa that Business Insider reported in January. That previous report mentioned a June 30 launch deadline and a reported name for the technology, “Remarkable Alexa.” If true, Amazon would be announcing its AI Alexa the same month that Apple is expected to unveil an AI-enabled Siri. In a recent Letter to Shareholders from CEO Andy Jassy, he mentioned a Gen AI upgrade coming for Alexa.

As of 2023, Amazon has sold more than 500 million Alexa’s, but the technology has lost steam since its launch 10 years ago. While once seeming novel, Alexa now appears fairly limited as an assistant compared to modern AI competitors. Internally, CNBC reports that Jassy has made Alexa less of a priority since it wasn’t making significant revenue. One of CNBC’s sources also described Jassy’s frustration over an incident with Alexa where it couldn’t find the live score of a recent sporting event.

Amazon pointed Gizmodo towards a blog post from Sept. 2023 titled “Previewing the future of Alexa” when asked about CNBC’s report. The blog post details a new Alexa based on a large language model that promises to be more conversational, useful, personalized, trustworthy, and even to have more personality. AI companies seem to be diverging around whether AI assistants should be personal, and it seems Amazon is saying yes to robot opinions.

“As we’ve always said, the most boring dinner party is one where nobody has an opinion—and, with this new LLM, Alexa will have a point of view, making conversations more engaging,” Amazon said in the 2023 blog post.

Last week, OpenAI and Google showcased how advanced their AI assistants can be, and it showed how much better Siri and Alexa will get this year. However, these AI assistants are costly to run, and it’s unclear if consumers find them valuable enough to justify the price.


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