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Amazon’s Alexa Will Have An AI Subscription Fee

Amazon is set to introduce an AI-powered version of its voice assistant, Alexa, and will offer it with a monthly subscription fee for customers, CNBC reported this week.

Alexa which turns 10 this year, is being powered by generative AI technology that will allow it to compete with offerings from Google and OpenAI, CNBC said citing unnamed sources familiar with the matter.

Amazon will use its own large language model, Titan, in the Alexa upgrade, according to a source. In March, Amazon spent A$4.15 billion backing AI startup Anthropic, its largest venture investment in the company’s three-decade history. Anthropic’s chatbot Claude competes with OpenAI and ChatGPT.

While Amazon has not yet put a number on the subscription fee it plans to charge for it, the AI-powered Alexa will likely not be included within its Prime offering, which at the moment costs A$79 a year in Australia.

CNBC claimed that a source estimated the cost of using generative AI in Alexa at 3 cents per query, and said an approximately A$30 price point was floated internally for the enhanced Alexa version – though another source said that it would be a single-digit dollar subscription fee.

This isn’t the first time we’ve come across reports of an upcoming paid version of Alexa. Last year, David Limp, Amazon’s former senior vice president of devices and services, told The Verge that Amazon “will end up charging something” for a version of Alexa that’s supercharged with AI. Limp added that the existing version of Alexa would remain free.

Last September, Amazon already showcased an updated Alexa powered by a large language model (LLM) which gives Alexa a better grasp over conversational phrases and allows it to execute multiple requests from one command. In April, Amazon CEO Andy Jassy wrote in a letter to shareholders that Amazon was building a “substantial number of GenAI applications across every Amazon consumer business,” adding that that included “an even more intelligent and capable Alexa.”

Amazon’s race to compete with its peers comes as earlier this month OpenAI announced GPT-4o which is capable of two-way conversations that are more advanced than what Alexa offers.

As ChannelNews reported, GPT-4o is “natively multimodal” which means it can generate content and understand commands made via voice, text, or images. It can therefore translate conversations into different languages in real time.

Google too launched a similar generative-AI-powered voice feature for Gemini.

Apple is also expected to unveil a more conversational Siri at its annual developers conference in June, according to The New York Times. Apple and OpenAI are believed to be in talks for a iPhone chatbot.

As of 2023, Amazon said it had sold more than 500 million Alexa-enabled devices, meaning that it will have a sizeable customer base potentially ready to adopt this AI-powered version.

Read: Apple & OpenAI Reportedly In Talks For iPhone Chatbot



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