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Outgoing Amazon exec says company may start charging for Alexa in the future

Published Sep 26th, 2023 4:19PM EDT
Amazon Echo Show 8 smart display with Alexa
Image: Christian de Looper for BGR

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If you use Alexa around your house, I have bad news. According to an outgoing executive, Amazon may start charging a subscription fee for Alexa in the future.

The executive in question is Dave Limp, who is leaving to take over Blue Origin. Limp told Bloomberg that he “absolutely” believes Amazon could start charging a subscription fee for its Alexa assistant, blaming the cost of training and running generative AI models.

Amazon plans to offer additional smart AI features on its Alexa products, which would explain why additional training and other AI models are involved. Limp also added that it is likely that the current iteration of Alexa would remain free, with a more “premium” option being available that has more advanced capabilities and features.

Alexa air quality monitor
Alexa products could soon require a subscription to access certain features. Image source: Amazon

Generative AI, and AI as a whole, has been taking the world by storm. ChatGPT’s continued success and the launch of Microsoft’s Copilot AI in Windows this month are both big pushes for the AI models that will one day be integrated into our current software options. As such, it isn’t surprising at all to see Amazon and others leaning into it so early on.

In fact, Amazon is leaning pretty hard into generative AI. The company has already started utilizing AI-generated reviews, paraphrasing multiple reviews into one item. The company also offers generative AI to help sellers create text and copy for their product pages. Seeing them leaning towards a subscription-based AI in Alexa, as such, isn’t a surprise at all.

I’d even wager that hearing about Amazon planning to charge for Alexa isn’t that surprising, especially after the success Amazon has seen others have with their more premium AI offerings. ChatGPT offers a premium subscription, which offers more access to its generative AI, and plenty of other AI services, like Midjourney, require a subscription to even access. It makes sense for the company to try to make money off it in some way.

Of course, the real question is how much turnover we see from free Alexa users to paid users. Amazon will have to contrive some interesting features to make paying for Alexa useful, especially with other virtual assistants like Siri and even Google Assistant offering what you could arguably call better experiences overall.

Josh Hawkins has been writing for over a decade, covering science, gaming, and tech culture. He also is a top-rated product reviewer with experience in extensively researched product comparisons, headphones, and gaming devices.

Whenever he isn’t busy writing about tech or gadgets, he can usually be found enjoying a new world in a video game, or tinkering with something on his computer.

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