Alexa is down. Will it be out?

Alexa unit is taking a huge chunk of Amazon layoffs.

to all. Requires a subscription to read.

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This article does not:

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"This year, an employee familiar with the hardware team said the company is on pace to lose around $10 billion on Alexa and other devices."

I think we'll be lucky if we get existing services grandfathered. I can't see outright disabling Alexa servers with 71m users ...but a small subscription tacked on Prime seems likely.

Meanwhile, the developers here have been putting hammer & tongs to local voice control

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Without reading the article, I think they spent too much on this project, and put way too many resources into it for very little gain.

How has the Echo changed since introduction? Other than the Show with the display screen, there really hasn't been a huge breakthrough or significant improvement in devices, or how Alexa works.

The same problems that plagued the original dot still exist sometimes even worse now. You still get her misunderstanding words like "Hall" vs "All". Alexa still is randomly doing completely incorrect actions like "I heard you say play songs by puffy" when you were just talking to the dog and saying "nice puppy" and not invoking Alexa at all.

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Adding zigbee support with local control of zigbee devices is a pretty big addition, but I don’t think it has dramatically increased Alexa usage or device sales.

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Hasn't that been a feature since the original tall cylinder echo speaker? Or maybe it was the Gen2, but I know it has been around for a while.

No, the original 2014 Echo (which bought on a whim, before voice control of home devices, or at least Hue and whatever had, was even a feature!) was tall and cylindrical, but the first Zigbee one came with the Echo Plus in 2017. They were separate product lines for a while until, it seems, they slowly merged the two (and added Zigbee to others as well).

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As @bertabcd1234 indicated, it was introduced in the Echo Plus. So I'd call it generation 2.5 relative to the original Echo, of which I still have a couple.

Currently, the Echo devices with a zigbee hub are:

  • Echo Plus
  • Echo 4th generation
  • Echo Studio
  • Echo Show 10 (all except the first generation)

We've started writing down the odd ball things Alexa pipes up with sometimes. Reminds me of funny things kids say.

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I'm overjoyed that the persons responsible for "Things to try" and "By the way .." are potentially unemployed.

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Ain't THAT the truth!

The fundamental issue is that Amz equated/expected voice sales with engagement. But even their best Prime fanbois (like me) never trusted Alexa-driven purchasing. Timers, reminders, music, weather, & voice control doesn't pay the bills.

Meanwhile, I'm trying to figure out how I might crudely replicate voice reminders once we get a local option.

:point_up_2: This X 1000

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I have a little sympathy for Amazon. One of the issues they had and still have is how to communicate new/updated features. Now, it's also easy to say that they didn't have enough new/updated features. Has room context moved beyond lights? I don't know as my current house doesn't have duplicate non-light devices. It's still a giant PITA to find/manage devices in the app. Skill management that require linking to outside services is still horrible. Etc.

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Not much. I think it may work with thermostats as well? I would like to see this extend to TVs and shades.

Alexa knows I have a TV in my bedroom, if I'm in the bedroom and I say "turn off the TV," it shouldn't be much of a mystery to figure out which one I'm talking about.

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The information is there because I can do this in Node Red. If I say "it's hot in here", my flow can determine which Echo device heard me say it and turn on the fan in that room. I do similar with the lights. If Echo Speaks could pull same information, that would be awesome. It's too bad Echo can't do it natively.

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Archived version of the article (no paywall):
https://archive.ph/M7Krm

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I hope Alexa does not fade away. I am heavily invested in the Amazon system. I started with an Echo Dot and have upgraded to the point I now use: 2 Echo Show gen 1, 1 Echo Show Gen2, two Echo Show 8s and 1 Echo Show 5.

I use Hubitat to control my entire home. However, I use the Alexa skill a so I can control everything through voice commands. Although some of my Echo devices have radios to connect with Zigbee devices, I have no plans to use that capability.

The problem with the Alexa system is that it does not generate sufficient ongoing income to keep the servers running. I think Amazon counted on Alexa generating business for its retailing operations by making it easy to order with voice commands. Although I place plenty of orders with Amazon, I have not used Alexa for a single one of those purchases. I also hate Alexa suggestions of things I might want to purchase. It does not make me want to make purchases. Then there are the lame gimmicks to sell me things like celebrity voices to make announcements or paid subscriptions for higher quality sounds to help me sleep. I can easily do without them.

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Correct, but restated - Alexa does not provide enough value to generate sufficient income. Your overall experience suggests that they never had clarity regarding what problem(s) they were really looking to solve (for which people were willing to pay them handsomely).

It will drive retail business? Not much evidence of that.
People will consume digital services like music? Nope. Pandora and Spotify monetized that better.
Smart home voice control? Maybe, but hardware was priced as a loss leader.
Nickel-and-dime people? Yup. Getting Samuel L. Jackson to voice a small subset of responses seemed like a jump-the-shark moment.

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Could be that other sources are proving more valuable in a data collection sense like Ring.

It always seemed very scary to me that Amazon had this potential ability to collect and track millions of Echo devices and parse down to the individual and household. Maybe the data is too large or varied to analyze and monetize properly relative to other solutions.

There does seem to be a major staff downsizing trend in the tech industries these days...

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Download the Hubitat app