Amazon.com Inc. has unveiled a range of new and revamped devices, along with significant updates to its Alexa voice assistant, as it strives to stay competitive in the face of growing competition from chatbots like Google’s Bard.
In an effort to make Alexa more appealing to users, Amazon is enhancing its voice assistant with generative artificial intelligence (AI). This will result in a more natural and less robotic tone when conversing with Alexa. Additionally, Alexa will now be able to provide answers to a wider range of questions, including queries about football game start times and recipe suggestions. Impressively, it can even compose and recite poems, a feature demonstrated at Amazon’s annual product launch event in Arlington, Virginia.
While Amazon initially introduced Alexa in 2014, the product has struggled to consistently turn a profit. Instead, it has primarily served as a gateway to steer users towards making more purchases on Amazon’s e-commerce platform.
Amazon’s push to enhance Alexa comes in response to increasing competition in the generative AI space, notably from OpenAI’s ChatGPT, which gained attention in November for its ability to provide detailed responses to complex queries. This surge in AI chatbots has sparked investor interest in generative AI startups.
On a related note, Reuters recently reported that morale within Amazon’s Lab126 hardware unit has been impacted by shifting strategies and concerns that the company is not delivering popular consumer devices. It is believed that many of the products in development are aimed at expanding Alexa’s presence within households, including innovative devices like carbon monoxide detectors with integrated Alexa services.
During the product launch event, Amazon also introduced updated versions of its Fire tablets for children, an enhanced version of the Show (an Echo device with a screen), a TV speaker, and new search features for the FireTV service to help users discover free content.