Amazon.com on Wednesday unveiled a slate of new and refreshed devices and updated its Alexa voice assistant with generative artificial intelligence to attract users to the unprofitable product as competition grows from chatbots like Google’s Bard.
Alexa will converse more naturally next year, losing its robotic tone of nearly a decade, and answer questions like the start time for football games and recipe ideas. It will also be able to compose and recite poems, Amazon showed at the company’s annual product launch in Arlington, Virginia.
Amazon introduced Alexa in 2014, but has not found a consistent means to make it profitable, instead driving shoppers toward the company’s website for more purchases.
The Seattle-based company has worked to pep up Alexa particularly after OpenAI’s ChatGPT burst on the scene in November with long-form answers to complex queries. Similar chatbots sparked an investor frenzy in generative AI startups.
On Tuesday, Reuters reported that morale among workers in Amazon’s Lab126 hardware unit has suffered over shifting strategies and concerns that the company is not producing popular consumer devices. Many products under development, people familiar with matter told Reuters, are meant to put Alexa in more rooms of the home, such as a carbon monoxide detector with the service built in.
At the event, Amazon also introduced refreshed versions of children’s Fire tablets, the Show (an Echo with a screen), a speaker for televisions and new search capabilities on the FireTV service to find free content. — Greg Bensinger, (c) 2023 Reuters