Time sure does fly. Last June, consumers’ minds were blown when Alexa reached 1,000 unique skills. If they could see us now… because just the other day, Amazon’s voice-activated AI assistant hit a new skill milestone: 10,000. That’s right: Alexa’s got 10,000 skills.
The 10,000th skill was reportedly approved on the night of Feb. 22, according to Wired. It’s a game called “Beat the Intro,” which had already been seen on the App Store and Google Play. That night, the “name that tune”-style game was given the Alexa treatment, adding voice functionality to the user experience.
While 10,000 seems like a major milestone, and it is in some ways, the stat still pales in comparison to the number of apps that major smartphone operating systems boast. But that’s all just part of the growing up for a digital platform.
And to hit 10,000 skills around now, Amazon’s Alexa had to gain some 3,000 skills in the first two months of 2017 alone — that’s a major influx of developer interest in the space. Still, it’s not all fine-and-dandy in the voice-activated ecosystem.
There’s the issue of zombie skills. Aside from a few outlier skills, it turns out that when a voice application acquires a user, there is only a 3 percent chance that the user will remain active in the second week.
Consumers have largely been drawn to a small segment of use cases: News, games and trivia, reference, lifestyle, and weather skills comprise the majority share. VoiceLabs research found that only 31 percent of Alexa’s skills have more than one consumer review, indicating low consumer interest and use.
Then again, this isn’t exactly an unfamiliar scenario either. Forrester Research analyst James McQuivey told Wired, “We know what happened when Apple opened up the App Store and developers started pouring applications in there. Suddenly it became really, really hard for developers to get in front of their intended customers. There became this big problem of clutter.”
As 2017 progresses, expect big things from the voice-enabled ecosystem. It is quickly becoming mainstream and looking to monetize, so the challenge now is for industry leaders and developers to adapt to when, where and how consumers want to use their voice.