Amazon Introduces Subscription-Based Alexa

posted  21 Jun 2024
Photo - Amazon Introduces Subscription-Based Alexa
Amazon is set to launch a paid version of its Alexa voice assistant, aiming to monetize the system, which is currently non-profit, by integrating generative AI capabilities. Early reports suggest that the subscription for the premium Alexa service will cost around $5 per month.

The new version will be able to perform more complex tasks such as drafting emails and placing orders via voice commands. It will also eliminate the need for the wake word "Alexa," as the system will automatically recognize when it is being addressed.

This enhancement initiative, named Banyan after the banyan tree with its sprawling aerial roots, represents the first major upgrade to Alexa since its 2014 debut.

Insiders told Reuters that the deadline for the new version's development is set for August this year. In a letter to shareholders in April, Amazon CEO Andy Jassy mentioned plans for a more intelligent and capable Alexa but provided no further details.

Some employees view the Banyan project as a last-ditch effort to revive the unprofitable service, which has fallen behind in the rapidly advancing AI field.

Despite efforts to use Alexa to drive sales on Amazon’s online marketplace, the assistant has primarily remained a tool for music playback and weather updates.