In and of itself not that significant but for the larger picture, and to get another look at Amazon’s modus operandi and overall strong starting position, look at this: Amazon makes it cheaper to host Alexa skills on AWS | ZDNet:
These new promotional credits are designed to cover any additional cloud storage and computing costs incurred by developers for Alexa skills that go beyond the limits of the current AWS Free Tier. […]
The promotional credits are Amazon’s way of removing the price barrier and encouraging developers to build more robust skills. […]
Developers must have at least one skill live in order to apply for the credit program. The credits include a one-time $100 AWS credit that’s valid for 12 months, plus an additional $100 recurring credit that’s doled out on a monthly basis.
This helps Alexa with getting more skills -third-party integrations- onto the platform. Amazon PR already can claim the most robust voice platform and this will accelerate that further. It’s meaningful beyond PR: This is how experiments are coming to your platform. This is how you enable fringe cases, how you enable the long tail. Those may have only local or just niche relevance. But they are essential for a platform. Everyone has different fringe use cases and the more fringe the more likely the solutions can only be found one platform if any.
But we don’t need to tell Amazon the power of the long tail, do we?
For Amazon, the costs associated with this, are negligible. As the owner of AWS leveraging this synergy makes perfect sense.
And it’s almost unique: The only other companies with a similar position are Alibaba, Google and Microsoft. Everyone can set up a server and there are other big cloud providers but few get even to the same league regarding scale. And only the three mentioned have voice assistant for the end-consumer market or will have one soon most likely. (Alibaba) And then, we haven’t even talked about how AWS offers developers tools and integrations others don’t. Also, when people learn how to use your system that in itself creates a lock-in. AWS gains a halo effect by being the number one cloud provider. A lot of developers are learning to deploy AWS services in their day jobs and they now have the opportunity to use that knowledge to build Alexa apps (“skills”) with no monetary costs for them.
Only, Amazon needs to desperately make the discoverability of Alexa skills better. Far better the greater the number becomes, actually.
Also consequential but not very significant: Amazon puts Alexa inside its main iPhone app, reports VentureBeat. This means almost nothing as voice assistants only matter then they’re on the OS level, always listening for their wake words. (Hence Google Assistant in an app on iOS is equally irrelevant) That is why Alexa getting integrated into the first Android models is more significant.
Again, only few online companies, let alone online retailers, can even compete with Amazon on this level. Alibaba is one. From the mindset at least, Zalando may be another. From the size -but not the mindset sadly-, eBay would be one as well.
More competition is desperately needed, as Amazon pushes forward with Alexa using every tool at their disposal.
Already, first rumors of an Alexa device with a screen have emerged. This makes perfect sense as well: Leveraging Alexa’s success to (finally, at long last) gain a foothold in the multi-touch OS world would be quite the feat and would help Amazon further in establishing general interest platforms for all kinds of use cases.
Meanwhile, Google is alienating Google Home owners with unmarked ads.
More on this topic:
* So, Amazon Will Finally Get Its Own Popular Mobile Operating System
* Post-PC Online Retail: Why and How Amazon is Building the Alexa Voice Platform
* What Amazon Might Try To Get Into Android Phones At ‘Factory Level’: Alexa
* From Hotels to Gadgets, Omnipresent Amazon Alexa Will Be the Dominant Voice Platform
* How Amazon Is Fostering a Developer Community With ‘Alexa Champions’