Coding Google Now and sticking it deep into Android was likely no small feat. Thousands of man-hours and millions of dollars worth of technology must have gone into the artificial intelligence behind Google Assistant. Apple spent money to acquire the firm that helped build Siri into what it is today. Amazon's powerful Alexa software was a new direction for Amazon's coders to move in and must have taken tons of work. All of these products come for free on their given platforms, with Alexa and Assistant actually being platform agnostic. All those things considered, it's not hard to wonder how exactly such amazing programs are paid for.
The biggest way that these assistants earn their keep, obviously, is by pushing sales of their host platforms and hardware. The fact that sales of Amazon's Echo speaker featuring Alexa caught on fire shortly after the device's 2014 release and haven't slowed down should be an indicator of that. Another way these platforms can help monetize your data, however, is by collecting more of it. Google may have oodles of data on users, but it's not of the same depth or specific nature as the data that Facebook or Miitomo may have. Amazon, meanwhile, only knows your shopping and reading habits. Siri may have a handle on some of the basic ways you use your iPhone, but Apple has made it no secret that they don't want to amass a monolithic amount of user data, leaving it somewhat of a mystery how, and indeed if at all, they will use this sort of strategy.
Some other possible ways that these assistants could be monetized include, but are certainly not limited to, targeted advertising and partnerships with vendors, leveraging the mountains of information collected to create a multiplatform user-specific ecosystem, resulting in more ad clicks, and, of course, the controversial selling of user information to third parties. While the latter is obviously not something that the companies named would likely engage in, it is an example of the power of these new platforms and how they could be harnessed to make a buck. One industry insider went as far as to say that these platforms could end up monetizing themselves in ways that "we couldn't even dream of."