The News: This week at the Alexa Live developer conference, Amazon rolled out more than 50 new tools and features to help developers and device makers to drive discovery, growth, and engagement among their customer base. Over 900,000 registered Alexa developers have built over 130,000 Alexa skills and built in products for over 140,000 devices that can be controlled by Alexa. These new announcements will help create new opportunities for the Amazon developer partners. Read the full announcement on the Amazon Developer Blog.
Analyst Take: This massive feature release is Amazon’s largest to date for the Alexa platform. It’s clear that the company is trying to give the platform a boost and take it to the next level. Amazon already has a sizeable hold on the virtual assistant market, with “millions” of Alexa devices used “billions of times” every week, but many people only use it for basic functions like setting reminders and playing music. The desire for the Alexa to become a more proactive assistant is exactly what Amazon is targeting with the role of these new features.
The newly announced features and tools revolve around driving engagement, creating more entertaining and immersive experiences, removing productivity barriers, and improving home security for customers. For partners, the features revolve around new monetization opportunities and eliminating productivity barriers in the development process. It’s a lot, but I think many will prove fruitful and will be the boost the company is looking for. The slate of announcements rolled out at Alexa Live enable the following to be done:
Improve customer user experience. A whole slew of features enable developers to focus on making better user experiences for customers. These include featured skill cards, personalized widgets, proactive suggestions based on event triggers, immersive experiences with interactive media, device discovery, and replenishment capabilities. Now Alexa devices can suggest a playlist if a user starts a workout, find other compatible devices on the network, and reorder replacement parts for devices. Talk about personal assistant!
Drive growth with easier customer acquisition, retention, and monetization. With new skill discovery opportunities, personalized skill suggestions and connecting skills to each other, Amazon is making it easier for customer to find and continue to use a skill. This will ultimately boost traffic and create more revenue opportunities for developers. Additionally other features like paid skills and shopping actions offer new opportunities to developers to monetize their actions.
Easier development. The final swath of announcements all aim to make it easier for developers to build new skills. Developers can build faster with plug and play features, tap into Amazon resources like the Skill Design Guide and Alexa Entities, test out features with A/B testing and an expansion of international support to help developers access to markets.
Overall Impressions of Alexa Updates
Amazon is continuing to invest significant resources in Alexa development to take devices from simple task rabbits to more proactive engaging devices like our mobile phones. As more companies create voice assistant skills to tap into this market and reach customers, having useful skills like these that can drive higher levels of engagement will only continue to rise in importance. With Amazon’s market leadership in global digital assistant device deployment, this is an important area for Amazon to continue to invest AND to build deeper developer engagement. With that said, I expect to see new skills and advancements from developers as these tools are put to use in the coming months across the Alexa developer ecosystem.
Disclosure: Futurum Research is a research and advisory firm that engages or has engaged in research, analysis, and advisory services with many technology companies, including those mentioned in this article. The author does not hold any equity positions with any company mentioned in this article.
The original version of this article was first published on Futurum Research.
Daniel Newman is the Principal Analyst of Futurum Research and the CEO of Broadsuite Media Group. Living his life at the intersection of people and technology, Daniel works with the world’s largest technology brands exploring Digital Transformation and how it is influencing the enterprise. From Big Data to IoT to Cloud Computing, Newman makes the connections between business, people and tech that are required for companies to benefit most from their technology projects, which leads to his ideas regularly being cited in CIO.Com, CIO Review and hundreds of other sites across the world. A 5x Best Selling Author including his most recent “Building Dragons: Digital Transformation in the Experience Economy,” Daniel is also a Forbes, Entrepreneur and Huffington Post Contributor. MBA and Graduate Adjunct Professor, Daniel Newman is a Chicago Native and his speaking takes him around the world each year as he shares his vision of the role technology will play in our future.