February 23, 2017, AmazonDeveloper official websiteAnnounced that its Alexa already has 10,000 skills. It was a commendable development node for Alexa, who had been around for more than two years. With the addition of 10,000 skills, Alexa grew more and more like becoming aVoice operating system, And no longer like Siri, Cortana as a voice assistant.
However, the 10,000 Alexa skills to bring Amazon, but not sit back and relax; in fact, with this number continues to increase, some new serious challenges have appeared in front of the Amazon.
How did 10,000 skills be made?
Although Alexa came out with the Amazon Echo speakers in November 2014, in the first few months, Amazon did not allow third-party developers to participate in Alexa's skills development. Because the original Echo speakers themselves also need closed beta, and the new launch of Alexa in voice technology is also in constant debugging.
Until June 2015, Amazon launched a development kit called Alexa Skills Kit (ASK); third-party developers can use ASK to develop voice-based interactive Alexa skills, in fact, is the voice application. Of course, ordinary users can use Echo speakers to use these skills.
But in fact the vast majority of developers in the past by the development of the application are through the visual interaction, voice interaction for developers or a relatively unfamiliar areas. Therefore, completely based on the interactive form of human voice is undoubtedly greatly increased the difficulty of the development of the developer.
Amazon knows this, so it launched the ASK also announced the launch of $ 100 million investment fund Alexa Fund, in order to encourage developers to participate in the development of Alexa voice skills. According to Amazon's official introduction, Amazon is mainly from the innovation, consumer relevance, and ASK correlation degree to measure the developer project, once passed, Amazon will provide a sum of money.
From the results, the Amazon's move is effective, many developers eventually get funding.
(Some of the brands that have been funded)
From the specific growth point of view, the second half of 2015 growth is extremely slow, but gradually accelerated. From June to September 2015, Alexa added 14 skills; however, by January 2016, that number had grown to 130.
Accompanied by Alexa's skill growth, Echo sales continue to increase; especially in the Christmas season in 2015, Echo sales suddenly increased by 1 million units. This to some extent to enhance the Echo and Alexa's influence and awareness, which attracted more developers. In February 2016, Uber taxi service to achieve the support of Alexa; two months later, Echo's sales of more than 300 million units; both in their respective development and growth, but also on each other's growth has been greatly improved role.
In May 2016, the Google I / O conference was held, Amazon's Echo ushered in a rival Google Home; but Google's entry just proves the future of Echo's competitiveness and voice-based smart home devices.
So from June 2016, the number of Alexa skills began to show explosive growth, increasing hundreds to 1000 per month; 2017 January CES Conference, Amazon is responsible for Echo, Alexa and application store vice president Mike George announced that Alexa's skills reached 7,000.
(Alexa skill grows)
Did not expect less than 40 days after the time, Alexa the number of skills and a full increase of 3,000.
But it is not easy to pick a mile
10,000 skills, for Alexa, of course, is a platform to show the scale of a good number; but for developers and ordinary users, but it may not be a good news.
This situation, a bit like Apple's App Store that year. As the Forrester Research analyst said:
Apple launched the App Store platform, developers swarmed, the application of a sharp increase; then we realize that developers want their application to reach the target user, but this matter has become extremely difficult.
A similar situation also appears on Alexa. Although Alexa's skills are simply not comparable to Apple's App Store, the former uses a way of interacting with voice, which determines a natural distance between Echo users and Alexa's skills; after all, they can not pass Voice interaction one by one know what Alexa added skills.
Amazon did not think of that.
As early as January 2016, it added a game called "Skills" in Alexa's mobile app, where you can see and browse more than 130 applications at the time. Later in the summer of 2016, Amazon and the official website line similar to the App Store's & ldquo;Alexa application storeAnd in the home page on the application of classification recommended, and increased the search, rating, evaluation and other functions.
(Alexa Skills App Store)
In addition, Amazon also regularly sent weekly mail to Alexa users to inform them of the recently added Alexa skills. The intent of these practices is good, but it is inevitable that people feel awkward, after all, Alexa itself is to get rid of the interface operation and the use of voice interaction.
But Alexa really embarrassed is that it has so much skill (relative), but the usage is very low.
According to voice interactive research agency Voice Labs released in January 2017research report, At the time Alexa has more than 7,000 skills, of which only 31% have more than once the score. Because Voice Labs believes that most of these Alexa voice skills are "Zombie Skills".
This is not difficult to think of the current Apple App Store and Google Play App Store in the situation & mdash; & mdash; Yes, the vast majority of app are zombie applications.
But compared with the mobile applications on smart phones, Alexa's skills have to face another test. The same is fromVoice LabsOf the data, Alexa skills retention rate of only 3%; that is, after the user tries a new skill, he will continue to use the skills of the probability of only 3% next week.
How to keep users interested in new skills is an important issue that Amazon Alexa has to face.
A voice application store? Can only Oh
Application store for Amazon, is nothing new; as early as a few years ago Amazon launched Fire Phone smart phone (has failed) and Kindle Fire Tablet PC, it has built a Android application store.
To the number of Alexa skills has grown to a certain size, the Amazon in the official website for these skills focused on the introduction of a site. As mentioned above, many of the media used the words "Alexa app store" to describe it.
In this Alexa application store, Amazon has classified the skills, among which the top five categories of skills are: news, games / debris / attachments, education / reference, lifestyle, novels / jokes. The number of news skills has reached 2448, accounting for a quarter of all skills.
(From: Voice Labs)
The Alexa application store listed the weather class skills, the number of even 518.
It is hard to imagine how these weather-class developers are considering when they are involved; but standing on the standpoint of the average user, 518 weather skills do produce a choice of redundancy and even a choice. In fact, in the context of family scenes and voice education, the rapid increase in the number of skills will inevitably lead to a result: homogenization.
Of course, in the homogenization, there will be some small surprises, such as games. In fact, Alexa has the first 10,000 skills is a called Beat The Intro music game, it has been in the iOS and Android platform line; the specific game is a bit similar to listening to music guess songs.
(Beat the Intro)
However, for developers, the real problem is how to profit from these Alexa skills. Amazon provided Alexa Fund only benefit to a small number of developers; of course, Uber, Starbucks, BBC developers such a lot of money, Alexa for them only a user channel.
But for a large number of individual developers, from the Alexa skills in profit, but has become a big problem.
The current Alexa skills are free to use, so there is no like Apple's App Store in the case of three or seven. Of course, Amazon will be based on the user's skills to use the time to pay the developer, but in most of the skills nobody cares, the individual developers can get how much money from it?
However, in the case of Alexa limelight, developers seem to not manage so much. According to the Amazon officialstatement, There are already tens of thousands of developers are developing skills on the Alexa platform. In fact, from February 23 to the present, Alexa in 20 days time increased by more than 1200 skills.
It is worth noting that, from this figure, Alexa's skill growth rate seems to have slowed down.