Amazon keeps hiring engineers in a bid to keep Alexa on top

Amazon keeps hiring engineers in a bid to keep Alexa on top
Amazon's virtual assistant Alexa has had quite a year. Besides powering the leading smart speaker in the world in the Amazon Echo, smartphone manufacturers like Huawei, HTC and now Motorola have made room on certain of their handsets to include Alexa right alongside Google. And as other companies seek to make their own personal assistants more competitive, Amazon is willing to shell out the cash required to keep Alexa on top in 2018 and beyond.

In fact, according to the Wall Street Journal, Amazon is moving money and people off of other divisions and is moving the cash and hundreds of engineers to the Alexa program. As an example of how big Amazon thinks Alexa can be, it has replaced the former head of the division, who retired, with long time Amazon executive Tom Taylor. The latter is known for scaling fast growing divisions, which tells us that Amazon expects to expand Alexa very quickly/

This holiday season could be a big one for Amazon, Alexa and Echo. Smart speakers have become a must have tech item three years after the Echo created the category. Amazon's 75% share tops the 25% owned by the Google Home. Just this week, Sony announced an October launch of its own smart speaker, which will be powered by Google Assistant. In December, Apple's HomePod will launch with Siri on board. Some time before then, Microsoft's Invoke will launch with Cortana running the show.

Amazon's Alexa gets information from the company's retail business which gives it a big advantage in online shopping. To match Amazon, Google announced a partnership last week with Walmart, which will give on-line retailer Google Express the ability to offer a large number of new items allowing it to compete with Alexa.

Our old pal Gene Munster, former Apple analyst at Piper Jaffray, recently conducted a test for his new firm, start-up investor Loup Ventures. The test found that both Google and Alexa understood 95% of 800 questions that were asked to both personal assistants. That was a big improvement over an earlier test conducted in February that showed Alexa understanding 94% of 800 questions asked versus 77% for Google. However, Google answered 63% of the inquiries correctly versus 54% for Alexa. Both improved their respective scores in later testing.

This past week, Amazon also entered into a partnership with Microsoft that allows those using a device that features Cortana to summon Alexa, and vice versa. This way, Cortana users can access all the different things that Alexa offers but Cortana doesn't. And Alexa users will be able to access all the different things that Cortana offers but Alexa doesn't.

Alexa now has over 20,000 skills that are different capabilities that have been added to the assistant. Some say that Alexa needs to get "smarter" in order to compete with Google and with Siri. In order to create a smarter Alexa, Amazon hopes to increase the current number of engineers that work on Alexa by 50%. Currently, there are 3,000 engineers working on Alexa according to employment site LinkedIn. These additional hires will help create new devices for Alexa, and also improve the functionality of the virtual assistant.

source: WSJ

FEATURED VIDEO

3 Comments

1. therealestmc

Posts: 679; Member since: Jul 23, 2012

I do not understand why Amazon is wasting so much money on Alexa when most of it is a gimmick.

2. medtxa

Posts: 1655; Member since: Jun 02, 2014

can't let google beat them.

3. jacksmith21006

Posts: 68; Member since: Nov 03, 2015

"in a bid to keep Alexa on top" What? Alexa has commands you memorize and use. Google Home you just talk to it naturally like you would talk to your wife. Google Home I say "call mom" and it calls my mom. Wife asks and it calls her mom. Kids ask and it calls my wife. It knows each of us apart by the sound of our voices. So my kids do NOT mess up my music recommendations. My wife clicks her shutter button on her iPhone and without touching a SINGLE additional button walks into our family room and asks for very fine details in photos and the TV turns itself on, input sets and the photo appears in 4k on the largest screen in the house. But my fav thing right now is searching for something out of stock at stores. While cooking without touching a single button just ask the Google Home to call Target and it calls each Target store as requested. Amazon added a freaking intercom to the Echo which is just crazy. The Google Home is miles ahead of Alexa. It is NOT close. The primary issue is the commands and the inability to tell people apart on the Echo are foundational and everything sits on top. I had the Echo since day 1 as got into the preview but now we have several Google Homes. Can tell you from personal experience the Google Home is well ahead of the Echo. What is crazy is the Echo is almost 3 years old and the Google Home has been out 7 months. Yet Google is already so far ahead Amazon and we are getting stuff way, way faster than we got with the Echo. Plus meaningful stuff.

Latest Stories

This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. You can order presentation-ready copies for distribution to your colleagues, clients or customers at https://www.parsintl.com/phonearena or use the Reprints & Permissions tool that appears at the bottom of each web page. Visit https://www.parsintl.com/ for samples and additional information.