The technology and e-commerce giant has sold well over 100 million smart speakers and it remains the most prolific device in the space. Though its dominant stranglehold on market share may well be waning; it faces fierce competition from the likes of Google (GOOG) – Get Free Report and Apple (AAPL) – Get Free Report, which both have their own smart home speakers that more or less do the same thing that the Amazon Echo does.
And while it’s estimated that the smart speaker market size could top $100 billion by 2032, some of that growth may have to be spread out among competitors. Amazon’s smart speaker success has already largely been priced into the tech giant’s valuation, and it’s seeing a slowdown in its smart speaker segment. In November of 2022, it weighed changing or cutting drastically down on unprofitable segments — including its Alexa unit (part of the larger devices division). At that point, the unit employed roughly 10,000 people and sucked in a large portion of investment capital but was incurring multi-billion dollar operating losses per year.
Amazon Kills a Paid Echo Feature
And now, Amazon will be killing a small piece of its Echo revenue stream for a small portion of paying customers. Beginning in early June, select actors’ voices will no longer be available for use (or response) on Amazon Alexa.
“Samuel L. Jackson–celebrity personality for Alexa is no longer available for purchase. Customers who previously purchased the experience may continue to use the skill until April 30, 2023 by saying ‘Hey Samuel.’ Please reach out to customer service if you have any questions about this update,” the official Samuel L. Jackson Amazon page reads.
Amazon uses Jackson’s voice, along with Melissa McCarthy and Shaquille O’Neal, to answer certain questions about the weather, offer jokes, set alarms and reminders, and present other entertaining lines. The voice feature first became available to Amazon customers in December 2019 for $0.99 per month but was shortly upsold for $4.99 per month until it was rolled back in mid-2023.
“After three years, we’re winding down celebrity voices,” Amazon spokesperson Eric Sveum told The Verge. “Customers will be able to continue using these voices for a limited time, and can contact our customer service team for a refund.”
Jackson’s voice will be available for customers until June 7, at which point the feature will cease to exist. The McCarthy and O’Neal voice features will be available until September 30, 2023. Alexa will continue to be available in a variety of languages and accents, including American, Australian, British, Canadian, and Indian dialects. To get your Alexa to change her voice, simply instruct your device by saying, “Alexa, change your voice.”