The rise of cutting-edge “superhuman” AI models is fueling a potential shift in the pricing structure of Amazon’s voice assistant, Alexa.
In an interview with Bloomberg, Dave Limp, an outgoing Amazon executive, expressed his belief that Amazon could, in the future, implement a subscription fee for Alexa. Limp cited the escalating costs associated with training and operating advanced generative artificial intelligence models as the driving force behind this potential change.
Dave Limp emphasized that the existing iteration of Alexa will remain accessible to users at no cost. However, he acknowledged that a subscription-based version of Alexa might be introduced, contingent on showcasing more advanced capabilities and enhanced utility.
The rationale behind this possible shift in strategy lies in the substantial expenses incurred when utilizing AI models of this caliber. Limp noted, “When you start using these (AI models) a lot, the cost to train the model, and the cost for inference of the model in the cloud, is substantial.” Generative AI models, renowned for their prowess, demand formidable computing power, with estimations suggesting that models like OpenAI’s ChatGPT require daily expenditures exceeding $700,000.
Amazon has placed a significant emphasis on harnessing the potential of AI. Recently, the company unveiled an AI-powered iteration of Alexa, accompanied by updates to its Echo Frames and Carrera smart glasses. Additionally, Amazon committed up to $4 billion in funding to Anthropic, a competitor to OpenAI.
Regarding the potential subscription fee for Alexa, Limp clarified that the specific pricing details have not been discussed at this stage. He reassured users that the beloved Alexa in its current form will remain accessible for free, but hinted that a subscription-based evolution of Alexa is not a distant prospect.
An Amazon spokesperson further elaborated on the company’s approach, expressing confidence that future iterations of Alexa would deliver substantial value, warranting customer investment. They pointed to other generative AI experiences that have already successfully attracted paying users, underlining Amazon’s commitment to evolving Alexa’s capabilities based on user feedback and needs.
Dave Limp, who served as Amazon’s senior VP of devices and services for 13 years, announced his departure from the company shortly before the launch of these new products. His successor, former Microsoft executive Panos Panay, is expected to assume the role.
As Amazon continues to invest in advanced AI and explore new revenue models, the evolution of Alexa represents a dynamic intersection of cutting-edge technology and user expectations in the ever-expanding world of digital assistants.