Amazon is planning to give Alexa an AI update and charge a monthly fee – Quartz

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Amazon is giving its voice assistant Alexa an AI -powered update – and it plans to charge for it too.
CNBC, citing anonymous sources with insight into the retailer’s plans, said that Amazon is upgrading Alexa using generative AI and is mapping out what the monthly subscription fee will be as it looks to balance out the expenses tied to the tech-boost.
Amazon, however, hasn’t decided what the fee will be just yet, the publication added, noting that Alexa won’t be a part of the the yearly Prime subscription.
The tech giant is expected to launch the chattier version of Alexa later this year, which could help it keep up with Google and OpenAI, who have their own AI-equipped chatbots, according to the unnamed sources with knowledge of the private deliberations.
Amazon’s aim to boost Alexa may in part be due to the alarmingly fast pace of AI-voice assistant development. Earlier this month, OpenAI said its new flagship AI chatbot, ChatGPT-4o, would be 50% cheaper and twice as fast as previous model, GPT-4 turbo.
ChatGPT-4o, which was released last Monday, has five distinct voices that were “carefully selected through an extensive process spanning five months” from over 400 submissions, OpenAI said in a blog post on Sunday. The company drew backlash for one of the voices sounding eerily similar to actress Scarlett Johansson, who played an AI chatbot in the movie Her.
Despite the controversy, the launch bumped ChatGPT traffic to over 100 million visits per day, according to Similarweb.
Amazon wants to compete. Last month, in a letter to shareholders, CEO Andy Jassy said that the retail giant was building a “substantial number of GenAI applications across every Amazon consumer business,” which included an AI-powered shopping assistant to an “even more intelligent and capable Alexa.”
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