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Amazon will reportedly charge a monthly fee to access its upcoming Alexa AI upgrade


OpenAI, Google, and Microsoft have all made headlines in the past couple of weeks by showing off demos for new and upcoming generative AI features. Most of these will be available to access at no additional charge, including the new ChatGPT-4o model that OpenAI showed off last week.

However, according to a report from CNBC, another big tech company, Amazon, is working to upgrade its current Alexa voice command assistant to be more conversational and include AI features similar to ChatGPT, Google's Gemini, and Microsoft's Copilot.

However, that upgrade for Amazon Alexa will reportedly come with a big catch. According to its unnamed source, Amazon plans to set a monthly subscription price for its beefed-up version of Alexa. The article did not mention a specific monthly cost, but it did state it would not be included as part of the company's Amazon Prime subscription service, which costs $14.99 a month.

The article states part of the pressure to update Alexa, which first launched in 2014, comes from Amazon's current CEO Andy Jassy. The report stated that Jassy has not been impressed with what Alexa can currently do. The CNBC story says that in one meeting, Jassy asked Alexa for the current score of a live sports game. However, the digital assistant was unable to give him that answer, even though it was easy enough to find online.

CNBC added:

The team is now tasked with turning Alexa into a relevant device that holds up amid the new AI competition, and one that justifies the resources and headcount Amazon has dedicated to it. It has undergone a massive reorganization, with much of the team shifting to the artificial general intelligence, or AGI, team, according to the three sources. Others pointed to bloat within Alexa, a team of thousands of employees.

The article points out that over 500 million devices, from smartphones, tablets, smart TVs, smart speakers, and displays, support the current version of Alexa, so it already has a large user base. The article did not offer any info on when the Alexa AI update might launch. It did say it would use Amazon's own large language model, Titan, as its base.

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