Amazon Considers Charging for Major Overhaul of Alexa Platform

Amazon is reportedly planning a significant revamp of its popular voice assistant, Alexa, in a project internally known as “Banyan.” According to eight current and former anonymous employees who worked on Alexa, this overhaul, dubbed “Remarkable Alexa” internally, aims to bring the voice assistant back to its former glory. However, the sources claim that it is a desperate attempt by Amazon to regain market dominance.

The new version of Alexa, “Remarkable Alexa,” is said to come with advanced AI enhancements, enabling it to handle more complex queries and prompts. It will also leverage contextual information on users’ smart home usage, allowing it to perform tasks like starting the coffee maker in the morning without explicit instructions. However, the sources reveal that Amazon is considering charging a monthly fee of $5-$10 for access to this enhanced version, replacing the current free version, Classic Alexa.

Amazon is reportedly pushing its employees working on the project to meet an August deadline, suggesting that the company aims to showcase the revamped Alexa soon. The move comes as no surprise, as Amazon has been investing in AI capabilities for Alexa and hinted at its potential during a previous announcement.

While Google already charges for its AI-infused voice assistant, Gemini, Amazon’s approach is different. Google offers tiered pricing based on users’ needs and allows bundling with other services, such as Google Workspace. In contrast, Amazon’s paid Alexa relies solely on users’ own devices and services, as the company lacks a comprehensive ecosystem beyond its shopping and media offerings.

Reuters reached out to Amazon for comment on the matter, but the company did not provide any confirmation or denial of the report. However, it did acknowledge that it is working on something new for Alexa.