Reuters: Amazon Is Considering $5 Monthly Charge for Improved Alexa

Greg Bensinger, reporting for Reuters:

Amazon is planning a major revamp of its decade-old money-losing Alexa service to include a conversational generative AI with two tiers of service and has considered a monthly fee of around $5 to access the superior version, according to people with direct knowledge of the company’s plans.

Known internally as “Banyan,” a reference to the sprawling ficus trees, the project would represent the first major overhaul of the voice assistant since it was introduced in 2014 along with the Echo line of speakers. Amazon has dubbed the new voice assistant “Remarkable Alexa,” the people said.

A bit of a role reversal here. Apple, which is not known for giving away much for free, isn’t charging users for Apple Intelligence, including ChatGPT integration. Amazon, which is known for ruthlessly pursuing low prices, is, according to this report, looking to charge for an LLM-powered version of Alexa. Maybe that new version of Alexa really is that good? But I sort of think that if they gate this new Alexa behind a paywall, it will just be added to the existing package for Prime.

Speaking of Alexa, though, I’m reminded that Apple’s WWDC announcements didn’t include anything about bringing the new Apple-Intelligence-powered Siri to devices like HomePods or Apple Watches. Let’s say you have an iPhone 15 Pro or buy a new iPhone 16 this fall. What happens when you talk to Siri through your Apple Watch? Do you get the new Apple Intelligence Siri, because your watch is paired to your iPhone, which meets the device requirements for Apple Intelligence? Or do you get old dumb Siri on your Watch and only get new Siri when talking directly to your iPhone?

Tuesday, 25 June 2024