Alexa Live, the annual conference for app developers on Amazon’s voice assistant platform, kicks off on Wednesday with more than a few surprises. For one, the Alexa developer community of 900,000 developers who have so far developed 130,000 Alexa Skills (Amazon’s brand name for Alexa apps) is much more robust than one might expect, some of which are raking in over $ 1 million a year -app Purchases.
Those numbers come from an interview (below) with Nedim Fresko, Amazon’s vice president in charge of Alexa, who added that 140,000 different smart home products are connected to Alexa. That leads to two of the other big themes at this year’s Alexa Live – Environment Computers and Device Interoperability.
Amazon’s Fresco describes the recent boom in digital voice assistants as yet another era in computing history, such as the PC revolutions, the birth of the Internet, and the transition to mobile-first.
To further promote the spread of ambient computing, Amazon announced theEarlier this year, which will allow other companies to lease the technology behind Alexa to create their own voice assistants that can respond to either Alexa or a wake-up word of the vendor’s choice (or both). Verizon is among those partners that are expected to take advantage of this opportunity based on a leaked FCC filing for a Reported earlier this year.
For computing to really become ambient light, intelligent devices must communicate with one another. That’s one reason why smart home interoperability matters(formerly Project CHIP) will play a central role at this year’s Alexa Live.
Amazon plans to incorporate Matter compatibility with Alexa devices by sending an over-the-air update to most of the Alexa devices currently in customers’ homes, but with additional connectivity – like using Matter-compatible bridges to connect to non-Matter-enabled devices – is also in the works.
Two major competitors in the voice assistant space – Google and Apple – have already announced plans to integrate Matter with their respective voice assistants, Google Assistant and Siri. Google has all but confirmed that Matter compatibility means that its devices, especially its Nest Smart Thermostats, Integration into competing ecosystems from the likes of Apple and Amazon.
Apple has remained a little more cautious on the subject, but has one short tutorial at this year’s WWDC explain how developers can incorporate matter into their HomeKit-compatible apps. For its part, Apple says it will add Matter protocols to the HomeKit framework.
Another area Amazon would like to focus on during this year’s Alexa Live is Alexa Shopping, which developers can use to earn money through Amazon’s affiliate program. Basically, developers could advertise physical products through their apps or allow users to browse Amazon product lists and buy through Alexa, with the developer earning a small percentage of the transaction when users buy them.