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Amazon’s voice assistant is a ‘colossal failure’

Amazon is going through a turbulent zone and all eyes are on Alexa. The voice assistant, which is considered too expensive, has been described by a former employee as a “colossal failure”.

Eight years after its debut, Is Alexa a failure ? The chatty Amazon assistant has not confirmed the hopes pinned on him and the American company is asking questions about his future. It must be said that the boom is behind the e-commerce giant, which is going through a more complicated period. The time for austerity has come and Amazon is trying to save money, while Alexa costs a fortune and brings little return.

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 $3 billion lost in the first quarter of 2022 and the “vast majority of losses” were linked to Alexa. According to an employee of the company, this hardware division should enroll approx $10 billion in losses this year.

A lengthy investigation by Business Insider returns to Alexa’s plight; based on the testimonials of former and current employees of the group. All speak on condition of anonymity and the finding is clear: Alexa is a bitter failure. In addition to the financial difficulties, a former employee calls the assistant a “colossal failure of the imagination” and defines the project as “a missed opportunity”. At its launch in 2014, Alexa was nevertheless promising and seen as a solution for the future.

Alexa missed the target

Nearly 10 years later, the situation is serious as Amazon prepares for the largest layoff plan in its history. Despite the success of the first aircraft and the support of Jeff Bezos; the assistant did not meet the target set by the company. Known for its e-commerce business, Amazon wanted to carve out a place in the home to encourage users to order through 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 asked for basic commands (weather, play music, etc.) that are not related to Amazon.

After the euphoria that accompanied the novelty effect, the company was also quickly overtaken by reality. Data privacy controversies escalated and Amazon continued to sell speakers at discounted prices, without making a profit. Aware of this problem, the giant has chained new products such as skills or partnerships with Uber, Domino’s Pizza or Disney.

Amazon’s failure, but not only

Amazon is now wondering what to do with Alexa. The project is expensive and the company doesn’t seem to know which way to go, this employee explains. “There is no clear guideline for devices. What are we trying to do? To be the best? The cheapest? ». The giant blows hot and cold for now; alternate innovative products and a new generation of accessible Echo devices. However, it would be wrong to say that Amazon alone is responsible for this failure.

The voice assistant would revolutionize our use and relationship with new technologies. Force it almost a decade later and find that the assistants play a marginal role. Microsoft eventually stopped whistling at Cortana, while Apple struggles to convince with Siri. Alexa and especially Google Assistant did better, but we see that the situation is far from rosy.

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