Voice Assistants Dying, Alexa $10 Billion Loss Expected in 2022

DPI

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Voice Assistant losses are dragging Amazon and Google down. Alexa unit on track for a 10 Billion loss in 2022 alone. 10,000 job cuts looming. The original report is from Business Insider, however it is paywalled so arstechnica has a recap.

https://arstechnica.com/gadgets/202...failure-on-pace-to-lose-10-billion-this-year/

"We sell the Alexa hardware units at cost and all these idiots want to do is play Spotify or ask about the weather. We can't make money on that."

The Alexa division is part of the "Worldwide Digital" group along with Amazon Prime video, and Business Insider says that division lost $3 billion in just the first quarter of 2022, with "the vast majority" of the losses blamed on Alexa. That is apparently double the losses of any other division, and the report says the hardware team is on pace to lose $10 billion this year.

Google reported similar frustrations monetizing their voice assistant, with job cuts also planned.

https://arstechnica.com/gadgets/202...pixel-hardware-cuts-google-assistant-support/
 

HeadRusch

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They have a problem with marketing the features of these devices.

I'm a nerd and even I have a hard time getting the pairing and security set up (having to first even see if there is a skill, and if not if there is a hack to create the skill I need the thing to do)........but then the problem is performance.
"Alexa, Tell me the weather" is quick and handy. Alexa, play GWAR. Very handy.

But "Alexa, show me my backyard camera" =....
"I'm sorry , I don't see any devices named backyard camera"...oh shit right...
"Alexa, show me the Backyard Shed Cam"......"I'm sorry, I don't see that device, did you know I can tell you a Trivia question? Just ask me..."Alexa, tell me a trivia question"".
@(!&!*$*...."Alexa, show me ShedCam"....."Ok, you want me to show you Shed Cam, Right?".
"Yes".....Ok....showing Shed Cam........<20 seconds go by). 5" image appears 1.5 minutes after I actually needed it.

Meanwhile I can pick up my phone, press the button and see the camera within about 10-15 seconds.

These things have a neet-factor for their usage...."Drop In" is handy sometimes for me if I know my kids are in the house but not answering the phone....."Alexa, Drop in to my kitchen so I can tell the kids they are paying for their own college if they don't pick up
their g-d phones in the next 20 seconds..." etc, but otherwise...what are they expecting out of these things? "Alexa, I need dialysis....."??
 

Tengis

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They have a problem with marketing the features of these devices.

I'm a nerd and even I have a hard time getting the pairing and security set up (having to first even see if there is a skill, and if not if there is a hack to create the skill I need the thing to do)........but then the problem is performance.
"Alexa, Tell me the weather" is quick and handy. Alexa, play GWAR. Very handy.

But "Alexa, show me my backyard camera" =....
"I'm sorry , I don't see any devices named backyard camera"...oh shit right...
"Alexa, show me the Backyard Shed Cam"......"I'm sorry, I don't see that device, did you know I can tell you a Trivia question? Just ask me..."Alexa, tell me a trivia question"".
@(!&!*$*...."Alexa, show me ShedCam"....."Ok, you want me to show you Shed Cam, Right?".
"Yes".....Ok....showing Shed Cam........<20 seconds go by). 5" image appears 1.5 minutes after I actually needed it.

Meanwhile I can pick up my phone, press the button and see the camera within about 10-15 seconds.

These things have a neet-factor for their usage...."Drop In" is handy sometimes for me if I know my kids are in the house but not answering the phone....."Alexa, Drop in to my kitchen so I can tell the kids they are paying for their own college if they don't pick up
their g-d phones in the next 20 seconds..." etc, but otherwise...what are they expecting out of these things? "Alexa, I need dialysis....."??

When I first got my Echo Dot I tried to set up a ton of neat features I had read about... not a single feature worked. At this point its been so long I cant even remember what I tried besides getting it to interact with the TV.

I use mine for Spotify, my smart light switches, the weather, and my kids ask it to tell them jokes. Thats about it. Im not even sure what features could be monetized that I wouldnt immediately reject. The article spells out nicely that people dont want to trust their money to an AI when they verify information or read reviews.
 

atarione

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You missed the fact as a user of thier tech you were called an idiot
They didn't actually it was "paraphrased" in the post here.. However with the addition of turning lights on and off and playing spotify is all I do with the alexa thing in my house.
The report says that by year four of the Alexa experiment, "Alexa was getting a billion interactions a week, but most of those conversations were trivial commands to play music or ask about the weather." Those questions aren't monetizable.
 

sfsuphysics

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I'm surprised at how many people enjoy their spyware. Obviously it's not a huge number or they'd be making money, but they still got numbers.
Yeah my wife was like "hey do you think we could use <the Google one>, I can get one for free" and my response was "I don't want that thing in my house, you know how when we're talking and then later in the day you see an ad about what we're talking about even though you weren't even using your phone earlier? imagine that times 100"
 
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I didn't trust the stuff even in the beginning, but since I've read reports of voice assistants calling the cops and swatting people for watching movies and getting into arguments. They're absolutely doing more than just assisting.
You're a Luddite, and you're wrong. Smart switches and smart appliances can revolutionize the world. Imagine a world where you turn a light switch on by talking to it! By talking to it!

You tell Gargle to turn the light on.
Your device reaches across the internet.
Your words are analysed by a rapid access database on the other side of the world.
Your command is recognized.
Your command is sent back to your home.
Your light turns on after just a few seconds of waiting!

So much better than reaching over to flick a switch as you enter the room.

Tell me that's not worth getting gunned down by SWAT for.

Besides that, who doesn't like finding shit set up all wrong because voice recognition is still a bit shit?
 

UnknownSouljer

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Pretty happy that there is no business segment here. But that sentiment has steady been “echoed” a few dozen times in this thread.
 

RanceJustice

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There are legitimate benefits to voice assistants, but I couldn't be happier if proprietary, data-sucking, "we sell the device at cost because we want to monetize constantly listening to you and transmuting that into advertising" would all die (i'd say in a fire, but that wouldn't be great for the environment). Once again, this is an issue of the device serving the user as its intended design OR as simply collateral effects while its doing its "real job" for its manufacturer. It doesn't have to be like this, but so long as we have laws that allow privacy intrusion via technology or "if the data isn't in your physical house its not yours" nonsense, it won't change as there's huge vested interests from Amazon, Google, and others. However there is another way, for example

https://mycroft.ai/ - Iv'e always been partial to Mycroft, a free/libre open source voice assistant platform. It is intended to have both the client AND eventually even the server and all its training data FOSS and easily available to the user (at current the server is a bit harder to set up, install all the data sets etc). Even now you can basically build your own install on a Linux container , SBC or even as a service on your desktop , and they've just been shipping the Mark II stand alone smart-speaker since September 2022. However if you'd rather build your own you're not encumbered in any way. All the components are FOSS and privacy respecting ; you can choose to contribute to their data sets or not, used only for improvement of FOSS services not monetization or the like. I built one off a RasPi awhile ago that would have integration with OpenHAB ( https://www.openhab.org/ ) which is a libre IoT smart home automation suite, so I could ask Mycroft to playback the video from the last time the "visitor sensor" was tripped in our garage, or just speak out and alert us when the motion sensor went off . There's a lot of potential benefit from an open assistant; new versions of Mycroft used on the Mark II have generalized "normal, non tech nerd" functions like asking to read a recipe, search for answers to a question, play media from local or streamed sources, and more. I'll probably grab a Mark II for family members to have in the kitchen; its going to cost more than a latest gen Alexa or Google Home device with a display, but the privacy and libre element is worth it. The price was actually a good bit lower a few months back, but the shortages and whatnot have caused it to raise a bit, same as almost everything else in the tech sphere, especially smaller projects getting fabricated.
 

vegeta535

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markup_1000000159.png
 

LukeTbk

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I was going to say for sure they are loss leadign type of division but they made their money pushing ads, collecting data, selling throught them, etc...

But maybe not, data is not worth much, achieving to change people actions-stuff they buy using data is worth something which is not that obvious here and I could see people using it mostly for free spotify and even then you need billions of peoples to have facebook revenues on it, probably very very little by users even rich westerner.

People setuping alarm and other stuff that does not push much if any sales on Amazon.

Still sitting down and not being confident in a voice assistant with some add soap to my list of weekly amazon command said out loud, still not there yet, I can see people taking time to look at a screen to change their netflix account .
 
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LigTasm

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True, I use Indian Siri and that accent is marvellous.

Sadly, she doesn't understand a damned thing I say.

So I just looked it up and apparently voice #5 is "an anonymous member of the LGBTQ+ community" according to apple. Well, ok. Still sounds adorable to me though.

I actually found a good use for siri, when I play spotify while I'm in the shower its really good at turning the volume up and down for me. I never bothered to check what commands it can actually do, I just yelled out one day "hey siri turn it up" and it actually worked.
 

Wat

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Alexa needs personality. They should program it to reply as a disapproving, snarky mother in law. If it gave me shit after I told it to go to hell, it might be worthwhile.
 

madpistol

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I'm really surprised that Amazon has not found a way to integrate various functions of Alexa into AWS. Open up the API, and allow your customers to integrate it into their products for a small fee. Seriously... that's how you make money, dofuses.
 

Gorankar

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I never really liked the execution of these devices. Even if I have little use for what they offer, I can see the utility, when they are set up properly. Problem is that Alexa devices were meant to be a way for the users to spend more money, and as data collection devices. Data that's meant to target adds and be sold to others. That is it. Siri, and Bixby likewise. That they are failing right now is not surprising. Give the tech 5-10 years, and more importantly, the stupid consumers time to get better at using them the way Amazon/Apple/Samsung want, and these devices will turn a profit.
 

rinaldo00

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Just a reminder to the people dancing on the graves of voice assistants. My friend was hit by a drunk driver in a car while riding his bike and is paralyzed from the neck down. He uses Alexa to control his entire apartment. That device was a godsend for him.
 

rinaldo00

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There are legitimate benefits to voice assistants, but I couldn't be happier if proprietary, data-sucking, "we sell the device at cost because we want to monetize constantly listening to you and transmuting that into advertising" would all die (i'd say in a fire, but that wouldn't be great for the environment). Once again, this is an issue of the device serving the user as its intended design OR as simply collateral effects while its doing its "real job" for its manufacturer. It doesn't have to be like this, but so long as we have laws that allow privacy intrusion via technology or "if the data isn't in your physical house its not yours" nonsense, it won't change as there's huge vested interests from Amazon, Google, and others. However there is another way, for example

https://mycroft.ai/ - Iv'e always been partial to Mycroft, a free/libre open source voice assistant platform. It is intended to have both the client AND eventually even the server and all its training data FOSS and easily available to the user (at current the server is a bit harder to set up, install all the data sets etc). Even now you can basically build your own install on a Linux container , SBC or even as a service on your desktop , and they've just been shipping the Mark II stand alone smart-speaker since September 2022. However if you'd rather build your own you're not encumbered in any way. All the components are FOSS and privacy respecting ; you can choose to contribute to their data sets or not, used only for improvement of FOSS services not monetization or the like. I built one off a RasPi awhile ago that would have integration with OpenHAB ( https://www.openhab.org/ ) which is a libre IoT smart home automation suite, so I could ask Mycroft to playback the video from the last time the "visitor sensor" was tripped in our garage, or just speak out and alert us when the motion sensor went off . There's a lot of potential benefit from an open assistant; new versions of Mycroft used on the Mark II have generalized "normal, non tech nerd" functions like asking to read a recipe, search for answers to a question, play media from local or streamed sources, and more. I'll probably grab a Mark II for family members to have in the kitchen; its going to cost more than a latest gen Alexa or Google Home device with a display, but the privacy and libre element is worth it. The price was actually a good bit lower a few months back, but the shortages and whatnot have caused it to raise a bit, same as almost everything else in the tech sphere, especially smaller projects getting fabricated.
For all your concerns about privacy I found it ironic that upon clicking the link to the site I was warned that it uses tracking cookies ;)
 

Burticus

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My Ggle Nest serves exactly 3 functions. Turn some lights on/off, tell me the weather, and run kitchen timers. Doing random ggle searches with it comes up with random crap. I had hoped to pair it to the nest cam to see the doorbell camera, but I could never make this work properly. And sometimes when we are watching TV she will chime up at random and start talking about whatever is on the tv show... even though it never says "hey ggle".

I could do without. But it is nice to yell and have the lights come on when it is pitch black. Timers are ok. But yeah I know that bitch is spying on me, so I try not to yell things that will invite a SWAT raid like (f*ck Tr*mp needs to d**) or anything.
 

rinaldo00

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I could do without. But it is nice to yell and have the lights come on when it is pitch black. Timers are ok. But yeah I know that bitch is spying on me, so I try not to yell things that will invite a SWAT raid like (f*ck Tr*mp needs to d**) or anything.
That actually would get you the free Google Nest product of your choice.
 

qdemn7

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Just a reminder to the people dancing on the graves of voice assistants. My friend was hit by a drunk driver in a car while riding his bike and is paralyzed from the neck down. He uses Alexa to control his entire apartment. That device was a godsend for him.
I am not gravedancing since I use Google and Siri all the time. Control use is great. Trying to make me buy stuff is not.
 

SunnyD

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"We sell the Alexa hardware units at cost and all these idiots want to do is play Spotify or ask about the weather. We can't make money on that."
What exactly did they expect people to do with a connected speaker (with honestly pretty damn phenomenal audio quality for what it is)?

I mean my Alexa units are mostly glorified light switches. I honestly see no rational function that they have or can do that could realistically be monetized, save maybe putting the whole thing behind a subscription paywall. And if they did that it would have very limited appeal.
 

BassTek

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Play spotify, turn TV off, turn light off. That's about all I need it for. Plus half the time I ask for anything more complicated I get the wrong answer.
 

RanceJustice

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For all your concerns about privacy I found it ironic that upon clicking the link to the site I was warned that it uses tracking cookies ;)
From where? I have a few addons/blockers that are pretty strict and by default everything loads fine for me without impacting the site. The only 3rd party cookies (ie 'tracking cookies') are the Google and YouTube ones, as it has a YT video on the main page (if you want to use a Piped or Invidious redirect addon, that is also an option); aside from that there's some fairly benign and easily blocked non-cookie metrics (google analytics, doubleclick etc) . You can of course deny when their request pops up and it will reload the site without either - their privacy policy and cookies page are pretty easily visible and comprehensible. Though I admit it wouldn't hurt for them to replace the Google Analytics and HubSpot or Doubleclick with something like Matomo (the new name for Piwik); maybe I'll make a post about it.
 
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Red Falcon

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