Amazon to "Double Down" on Alexa Investment
Amazon sold "tens of millions" of Echo devices last year making it one of the retailer's two best-selling products in 2017(the other was the Fire TV Stick). Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said the company's 2017 projections for Alexa were very optimistic, and "we far exceeded them."
"We don’t see positive surprises of this magnitude very often — expect us to double down. We’ve reached an important point where other companies and developers are accelerating adoption of Alexa."
Senior VP & CFO Brian Olsavsky noted the the results of Alexa were "a very positive surprise for us." In addition to record device sales, Amazon had "very high levels of customer engagement, including increased levels of voice shopping."
Echo devices are all directly tied to Alexa, but Alexa usage on Fire TV is also up, nine times year-over-year.
The Alexa Skills store now offers more than 30,000 skills and customers can use Alexa to control more than 4,000 smart home devices from 1,200 unique brands. Music listening time on Alexa was three times higher this holiday season.
Amazon Web Services (AWS) recently launched Alexa for Business, a new service that brings Alexa into the workplace to help employees on both personal and shared Echo devices by using their voice. Employees can use Alexa for Business to find an open conference room, make phone calls, check calendars, schedule and start meetings, manage to-do lists, set reminders, and find information in business applications like Salesforce, Concur, or Splunk.
Amazon has also introduced new tools and developer kits, including the Alexa Mobile Accessory Kit and Alexa Premium Far-Field Voice Development Kit, to make it easier for developers to bring Alexa to more devices. In addition, the e-commerce giant has launched new ways for developers to earn money building for Alexa, including paid skill content through in-skill purchasing, premium subscription content, and a more frictionless checkout experience with Amazon Pay.
Alexa Voice Service (AVS) adoption among device makers continues to grow. Brands that have announced new AVS products include: new integrations for Alexa on PCs from HP, Acer, ASUS, and Lenovo; a new automotive integration with Toyota; and new devices from Polk Audio, Anker, and Jabra.
Amazon has expanded Alexa, Echo, and Amazon Music Unlimited to 30 new countries.
"We're very happy with the results, the customer adoption, the device sales that we're seeing and the general customer acceptance there," said Olsavsky. "So we will continue to invest there."
Amazon's net sales increased 38% to $60.5 billion in its fourth quarter of 2017, compared with $43.7 billion in fourth quarter 2016. For the full year 2017 net sales increased 31% to $177.9 billion.