Amazon Plans to Offer Improved AI-Powered Alexa at an Extra Cost: Report

Amazon is reportedly working on integrating artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities within its cloud-based voice assistant, Alexa, but users might have to pay more before they can avail of its services. The Seattle-based tech giant has been planning to enhance the capabilities of its virtual voice assistant since 2023, likely to not fall behind the likes of OpenAI’s ChatGPT and Google’s Gemini. But a new report now highlights that while Alexa might get smarter, it will not be bundled with the standard Amazon Prime subscription.

Amazon to make Alexa smarter

Last month, Amazon published a post in its newsroom titled “CEO Andy Jassy’s 2023 Letter to Shareholders”. The long post detailed the tech giant’s vision for the next financial year and strategies that it plans to implement to stay ahead of the curve. In the post, the CEO stated that the company was working on building “an even more intelligent and capable Alexa”.

It is believed that the company could leverage its in-house Titan family of large language models (LLMs) that it has been working on for a while. Some of the released AI models also come with multimodal capabilities, making them the right fit for a service like Alexa. However, Amazon is keeping the potential new features of Alexa under wraps for now.

Some rumours suggest that Alexa could get a better conversational capability rivalling GPT-4o or Gemini 1.5 Pro. Further, it could also become more efficient at handling complicated tasks and understanding commands given in contextual language.

AI-powered Alexa could require another subscription

At present, access to the basic functionalities of Alexa is free and anyone can access it. Some of its more premium use cases might require an Amazon Prime subscription (for Prime Music, Prime Video, and more). However, according to a report by CNBC, the company might put the AI-powered capabilities of Alexa behind another subscription.

Citing people familiar with the matter, the report claimed that Amazon is not considering bundling the upgraded Alexa with the Prime subscription. The reason behind this decision is that running servers for AI computing can be expensive. As per the report, the tech giant might be shelling out about $0.02 (roughly Rs. 1.50) per query, which could add up quickly. As a result, internally a price point of $20 (roughly Rs. 1,770) a month has been considered. However, the company has reportedly not reached any conclusions yet.

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