Amazon reportedly unsatisfied with a paid version of Alexa, faces internal conflict

Amazon is working on Alexa and is looking to launch a new paid subscription for the voice assistant. However, people familiar with the matter have shared company conflicts revolving around the new technology.

Business Insider suggested that Amazon is developing “Alexa Plus” a paid version of its existing Alexa that will supposedly feature all functionalities the current Alexa offers. However, according to people familiar with the matter, most of the existing issues with Alexa will be fixed in the new version.

Alexa Plus is advertised as a more personalized and conversational AI in the company documents shared by the people and is expected to launch on June 30. The company has also been testing the technology out with 15,000 external customers.

The insiders revealed that Amazon is currently struggling with improving the AI running Alexa. The technology still provides inaccurate information and does not meet the standards the company has laid out.

Additionally, the company is struggling to reduce costs which can be seen in the layoffs from its Alexa voice assistant division in November 2023. One of the people who highlighted the issue went as far as saying, “If this fails to get revenue, Alexa is in trouble.”

According to the sources, another reason why Amazon is unprosperous with Alexa is because it faces intense competition from Apple’s Siri and Google Assistant. Despite being the third-largest voice assistant in the U.S., senior vice president of Devices and Services at Amazon, Dave Limp, previously stated that the company would need to charge for new versions of Alexa to cover the high costs.

That being said, there are internal conflicts within the company about whether to charge for the new Alexa or not. According to the people who revealed these company secrets, employees against the idea of a paid subscription argue that customers who are already paying for Amazon’s services would be unwilling to pay for a new Alexa.

It is also important to note, that the new Alexa falls short of the expectations. Even in the tests done with the 15,000 customers, Alexa presented inaccuracies or unnecessary lengthy responses. It also failed to carry out requests that required doing multiple tasks.

Another conflict among the company employees is about the technology used in “Classic Alexa” and the “Remarkable Alexa.” The Remarkable Alexa refers to the new technology being tested, while the Classic Alexa is the current version.

The insiders clarified that Classic Alexa features a natural language model distributing personalization signals and context history on distinct paths. Whereas, the Remarkable Alexa offers a more personalized experience and better reasoning due to its single-language model.

The people mentioned that Amazon is trying to cover the deficiencies in Remarkable Alexa with a new technology stack. However, this decision is also due to the “legacy constraints” Classic Alexa possesses.

Some employees wish to continue with the technology used in Classic Alexa but that appears to be aggravating the conflict within the company.

Source: Business Insider

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