Amazon is going through a turbulent zone and all eyes are on Alexa. The voice assistant, considered too expensive, is described as a “colossal failure” by a former employee.
Eight years exactly after its debut, Is Alexa a Fail ? Talkative, the Amazon assistant did not confirm the hopes placed in him and the American firm is asking questions about its future. It must be said that the good years are behind the e-commerce giant which is going through a more complicated period. The time for austerity has come and Amazon is looking to save money, while Alexa costs a fortune and brings in very little.
Worn for a time by Jeff Bezos himself, Alexa is part of the “Worldwide Digital” division which also includes Echo devices and the Prime Video streaming service. She has lost $3 billion in the first quarter of 2022 and the “vast majority of losses” were linked to Alexa. According to an employee of the firm, this hardware division should record approximately $10 billion in losses this year.
A long investigation by Business Insider returns to the Alexa situation; based on testimonials from former and current employees of the group. All speak on condition of anonymity and the observation is clear: Alexa is a dismal failure. Besides the financial difficulties, a former employee calls the assistant “colossal failure of imagination” and defines the project as “a wasted opportunity”. When it was launched in 2014, Alexa was full of promise and seen as a solution for the future.
Alexa missed the boat
Nearly 10 years later, the situation is severe as Amazon prepares for the largest layoff plan in its history. Despite the success of the first devices and the support of Jeff Bezos; the assistant did not meet the objective that the firm had set for itself. Known for its e-commerce activity, Amazon aimed to find a place in homes to encourage users to order via the voice assistant. This explains the decision to offer these devices at very attractive prices. “We want to make money when people use our devices, not when they buy our devices”, we can read in an internal document. Today, devices equipped with Alexa are used for basic commands (weather, playing music, etc.) which bring nothing to Amazon.
Once the euphoria linked to the novelty effect passed, the firm was also quickly overtaken by reality. Controversies related to data confidentiality multiplied and Amazon continued to sell speakers at reduced prices, without being able to make them profitable. Aware of this problem, the giant has launched a series of new products such as skills or partnerships with Uber, Domino’s Pizza or Disney.
The failure of Amazon, but not only
Amazon is now wondering what it should do with Alexa. The project is expensive and the firm does not seem to know which path to take, as this employee explains. “There is no clear guideline for the devices. What are we trying to do? To be the best? The cheapest? ». For the moment, the giant is blowing hot and cold; alternating between innovative products and a new generation of accessible Echo devices. However, it would be wrong to say that Amazon is solely responsible for this failure.
The voice assistant was supposed to revolutionize our uses and our relationship with new technologies. Nearly a decade later, it is clear that assistants occupy a marginal role. Microsoft ended up cutting off Cortana while Apple is struggling to convince with Siri. Alexa and especially Google Assistant have fared better, but we see that the situation is far from rosy.
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