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Amazon to Change How Alexa Developers Are Paid

Amazon Alexa device

Amazon will stop paying developers to create applications — called Skills — for its voice assistant Alexa.

This will end an offering that has been available to developers since 2017 and aimed to build an app store for Alexa, Bloomberg reported Wednesday (April 10).

Amazon spokesperson Lauren Raemhild said in the report that the program was older, was designed to help accelerate the progress of newer developers and is currently used by fewer than 1% of developers.

“Today, with over 160,000 skills available for customers and a well-established Alexa developer community, these programs have run their course, and we decided to sunset them,” Raemhild said in the report.

Developers can still use in-app purchases to monetize their applications, according to the report.

While Alexa’s introduction helped popularize voice assistants and the technology currently powers millions of devices that have been sold, it has been overshadowed by generative artificial intelligence (AI)-powered chatbots and has lost ground to smartphones when users are looking for help with tasks, the report said.

In addition, many paid developers’ efforts didn’t advance far beyond experiments and their apps were not generating much revenue for Amazon, per the report.

It was reported in January that Amazon is reconfiguring Alexa as it gets ready to roll out a paid subscription plan for the voice assistant later this year.

The company has tested the new technology with 15,000 customers and is aiming for a June 30 launch, Business Insider reported.

At the same time, Amazon has been faced with the technology giving inaccurate information and some people inside the company questioning whether people would pay for Alexa, according to the report.

In November 2023, it was reported that Amazon was making hundreds of job cuts in its Alexa division and focusing more on the development of capabilities powered by generative artificial intelligence (GenAI).

An Amazon spokesperson told PYMNTS at the time that the company was shifting some of its efforts to better align with its business priorities — including GenAI — and that it remains optimistic about the future of Alexa.

“As we move forward, Alexa remains an incredibly important part of our business, and we will continue to invest and innovate to deliver on our vision,” the spokesperson said.